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My suffering peonies

June 3, 2010

The previous owners of our house left behind two plants on the south side of the house that started pushing up out of the soil very early in the year. I soon recognized them as peonies. By May, the plants were setting buds.

Then we got 6-7 inches of heavy, wet snow on May 12.

Whump! Half of the peony plant was pinned to the ground.

The poor little buds were snow-coated. I wondered if they’d make it.

But lying flat on the ground didn’t seem to phase the peony. The buds began popping into a ruffly, pink color show.

And then, on May 24, the hail hit. The south side of the house, where the peonies are, suffered the worst damage. Several peony branches and blossoms were snapped off and lying on the ground.

So, I trimmed off the jagged stem ends, wrapped them in damp paper towel and tinfoil, like I used to do when bringing garden-cut flowers to my grade school teachers, and brought the flowers in to work. I arranged them in a small vase and put them on the corner of my desk.

My co-workers stopped to admire them. Many people couldn’t believe I had blooming peonies already. Some people stopped several times a day to smell the flowers.

When someone walked by, the peony perfume drifted my way and evoked memories of my grandmother. The blooms were actually a little distracting. I kept glancing away from my computer screen, over to the exuberant, pink reminders that I was missing out on the glories of the outdoors.

The remaining buds on the peony plants continued to pop, though many of them sank to the ground under their own weight, as peonies do.

Then I read a post by a fellow blogger at Apt. 11D. She wrote:

Peonies are much happier in vases all over the house than left outside, where they are too heavy for their stems. They like to be displayed in bud vases and even in plastic cups, and they last for more than week inside. But outside, they drag in the dirt and can’t be admired. They are the Sarah Jessica Parker of flowers — showy, dramatic, and better indoors.

I decided she was right.

I cut as many good-looking flowers as were blooming, crammed them into a funky vase, and set them on my dining room table.

My dining room smells divine! And I get to look at the loveliness every time I walk by. Great idea, Laura!

I probably never would have chosen to plant peonies. I’m glad the previous homeowners did. They seem to be able to take whatever the unpredictable west Nebraska weather can dish out. Maybe I’ll plant a few more . . .

Copyright 2010 by Katie Bradshaw

4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 4, 2010 7:32 am

    One of my faves too!

  2. Monique permalink
    June 5, 2010 8:45 pm

    Wow! I am SO planting peonies next year.

    • Katie Bradshaw permalink*
      June 6, 2010 8:36 am

      I’ve read the best time to plant them is in the fall.

      • Monique permalink
        June 7, 2010 2:45 pm

        Thanks for the tip. I think you saved me from some disappointment next spring. 🙂

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