It’s been peak bloom for peonies this past week. With our hot temperatures and gusty winds I can walk outside and immediately smell the scent of peonies in the air. It’s a short-lived bloom season, and perhaps that’s one of the reasons I savor every day. We’ve added additional peony bushes over the years, but I continue to favor the ones that I transplanted from my mother and father’s house in Kansas. These are the ones that were on the side of their house, sometimes neglected, but they continued to blossom. Each year my parents would gather and cut the blooms to take to the cemeteries on Memorial Day and lay on the graves of relatives. Fast forward to now, with both my parents having passed on, I’m filled with wonderful memories and see these Kansas peonies blooming in honor of my mom and dad.
On a brilliant summer’s day we took a drive west of the Twin Cities to Swenson Gardens in Howard Lake, Minnesota. Their gardens were open for their annual Peony Field Days, and the timing was perfect. With warmer temperatures and bright sunshine many of the peonies had come into full bloom. It was a chance to wander and dream and plan for places in our own garden for more of these lovely plants. I especially liked these America peonies – their bright red was a wonderful contract to the green foliage and the blue sky with its puffy clouds.
Yesterday was the epitome of an early fall day – cloudy and cool in the morning, but clearing skies and warm sun. We took advantage of the day and left the Cities early, heading west to Howard Lake, Minnesota. Our first stop was Swenson Gardens, the essential place for peonies. We had visited there a year ago, but this time we were getting advice on dividing and planting peonies. Keith and Becky offered they personal help and guidance and we left with plenty of information and three new peony plants for our home garden. As the sun was breaking through the clouds, we wandered south a few miles to Carlson’s Orchard. The bakery and restaurant were doing a bustling business, and a wait was required but certainly worth every minute. We had a delicious lunch, followed by fresh apple pie a la mode. The orchard was filled with apples, and the beautiful red Haralsons stood out against the blue and white sky and green of the trees and grass. One more stop at a winery for some tasting and a glass of wine in the sun made for a full and relaxing day.
With a burst of color, the peonies have come into bloom. Their fragrance is brought to full fruition by the breeze that blows through the bushes, carrying the scent across the yard. And when I’ve brought the bouquets into the house, I can catch the fragrance as I walk from room to room. Perhaps it’s because they are short-lived that I look forward to their bloom each year. Or perhaps it’s because they remind me of my childhood – my parents’ love of peonies and the tradition of taking them to my relatives’ grave sites on Memorial Day. I’m especially thankful that these pink peonies are from the plants that were my parents’.