Peonies – A Legacy from the Past and a Promise for the Future



Next to roses, my Mother’s favorite spring garden bloom was, without a doubt, the peony.  These sumptuous, fragrant flowers only bloom for about three weeks during the end of April and first of May in north Mississippi.  Mrs. Ada Guthrie, one of my Mother’s mentors and a gracious Southern lady in her own right, introduced Mother to growing peonies many years ago. ” Miss Ada” grew the most gorgeous peonies, and summoned my Mother to her garden each spring to cut bouquets of her prized peonies .  We sometimes enjoyed them at our home, but most of the time Mother created arrangements for the worship services at First United Methodist Church with the blooms.  My Mother loved filling the church with the extravagant peonies – and sometimes she had more than a hundred blooms to work with!  Living to be 103, “Miss Ada” was unable to attend church in her later years.  However, the congregation could literally feel her warmth and love when they walked into the sanctuary which was overflowing with her spectacular garden treasures.

“Miss Ada” is pictured below admiring peonies from her garden that my Mother arranged for church services.

Mother's flower arrangments 002

Mother's flower arrangments 001

Mother and “Miss Ada” are pictured below.

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My Daddy was “Miss Ada’s” personal physician for many years, and they both had great affection for each other.


Peonies will always be very special to me because of the association with my Mother.  Her peonies are still thriving in the garden where they were planted years ago.  The following pictures were made the very last weekend in April.



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Carol Johnston Brennan of Chattanooga shared the following pictures of her magnificent peonies:


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Kristi Smith, a sweet Dothan friend, even managed to grown a gorgeous peony down here in lower Alabama!



The delicate blooms of the peony are perfect for wedding celebrations.  Local florist Rachel Barrentine designed a romantic peony  bridal bouquet for Casey Smith Brodgen, bride of Jason Brodgen.  Vintage styled mercury glass containers also held romantic arrangements incorporating peonies at the reception.






I picked up a Mother’s Day treat last weekend at Fresh Market.  Peonies, which are almost effortless to showcase, were placed in a McCarty pottery vase where they have stayed beautiful even after 9 days!







Two weeks ago, our dear family friend, Wilma Sartin, created this magnificent memorial arrangement to commemorate my Mother’s 84th birthday for Sunday worship services at First United Methodist church in Pontotoc.  Wilma displayed her masterful design skills by incorporating peonies, hydrangea hosta,  and other perennials and greenery from the family garden.



Wilma’s floral design.


One of Mother’s peony arrangements from years past.


I will be forever grateful to Mrs. Ada Guthrie for introducing a garden gift to our family that will hopefully endure for generations to come …



 “Gardens can be an invitation to engage in the mysteries of nature.  They are places where divine and human creativity meet.  They are the manifestation of life born of a powerful mixture of urgency, devotion, delicacy, love, birth, death, and transcendent beauty”.  – Carol Siyahi Hicks from Gifts from the Garden


10 thoughts on “Peonies – A Legacy from the Past and a Promise for the Future

  1. Peonies are a favorite for me as well. I can buy them at the market now, but can’t grow them here in TX.
    The arrangements are gorgeous, and I can imagine how wonderful is the fragrance.

  2. This tribute is indeed the next best thing to being there. The peony is magnificent. What a beautiful story; family, friends, health, worship, weddings, windowsills.

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