Sunday, June 12, 2016

Pining for Peonies

"This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready to break my heart as the sun rises, as the sun strokes them with his old buttery fingers."
- Mary Oliver

I pick May as my favorite month in the  garden, and Peonies are no small part of that decision.

There are more than 30 species and many hybrids and cultivars to choose from, but my peonies have all chosen me, shared by friends, rescued from forgotten gardens and transplanted from the backyards of parents and grandparents. Some day I am  going to figure out just what varieties I do have, but when the peonies begin blooming I usually find myself lost in the task of  just enjoying them .


Early in May the tree peonies bloom, with blossoms so blowsy and big the stems can hardly hold them up. 
Happy in a partly shady spot, they stand tall and graceful above the newly unfurled ferns .

The month long parade of blossoms in my garden is lead by the deepest shades of magenta, this one's delicate silken petals open
 to reveal centers of powdered gold

Pinks of every hue soon follow, until finally there armloads to gather and  buckets full  to  share. 

As cut flowers, peonies are outstanding, with strong stems and intense fragrance. Vases are filled and brought into the house to add beauty and fragrance (and an occasional hitchhiking ant) to every room.  

As May comes to a close, the last peony to bloom in my garden is this beauty, thick with blush satin petals touched by tiny cerise kisses 

The peony is a flower surrounded by tradition and sentiment, and in the garden it's one of the longest-lived and most dependable perennials. Drought tolerant and pest free, it's the flower you are most likely to find blooming away for untold years in old cemeteries and abandoned farmsteads. With colors from deepest burgundy, magenta, pink, coral and  yellow to the purest white, and unmatched fragrance, it's no wonder peonies have been a cherished favorite in gardens for hundreds of years.

As a wedding flower, if you are fortunate enough to pick a date in May, a bouquets of peonies combining fat buds and full blown blossoms is exquisite.

I'm sorry to see then go as summer continues into June, but the memories remain, and this year my peonies were the privileged participants in a beautiful May wedding celebration - An honor for the flowers and for the gardener who lovingly grows them.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

NO Buttermilk Required

Martha says . . . . .     

  1. Paint unglazed terra-cotta pots with yogurt, buttermilk, plant-food solution, or beer, then rub with earth; keep pots moist by planting something in them and watering. In three months they'll look centuries old.

 I have actually looked for a recipe to create moss on my pots, yearning for that green and mossy look that speaks to me of the English gardens. 

And speaking of English gardens, how about the days of drizzle and gray skies overhead, all evoking the feeling of a verdant countryside, laced with stone walls and hedgerows teeming with wild roses and softly chirping birds.

Well I have it right here in the Midwest, moss and all!  

                The dove does look handsome 
                 with his mantle of green.

            And my miniature village is looking
            appealingly ancient .

Moss and Lichens are even growing on this garden seat - a tapestry effect that only nature could create.

If I sit still long enough , will moss grow on me?