Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Peony Ramblings

The peonies were beautiful this year, in between all the rain drops. Every time it stopped raining, I grabbed the best looking blooms for the house. 

 

The smell of them is just so gorgeous. Walking by this bouquet several times a day, the scent reminds me how lucky I am to be living in such a beautiful spot in the world. Such a short season for a beautiful flower. And so often ruined by the rain.

 

It's funny how some flowers remind me of different people in my life. When I see peonies, they remind me of my mother-in-law Betty. She wasn't in my life for very long - she died of cancer less than a year after The Farmer and I were married. At her farm, she had a peony bed - full of two varieties of old fashioned pink peonies. She loved those flowers and told me that she thought the bed had been there for over 100 years. Betty was a gardener and she taught me a lot about New England gardening - including what flowers belong outside a New England farmhouse - peonies, lilacs, apple blossoms, and forsythia. Every year, she dumped a big pile of cow manure on that peony bed. It is still thriving today.

Betty has been such an inspiration to me, all these years later. She raised three young boys after her husband Norman (the original Farmer) died and kept the farm that had been in their family since the 1920's. Paying the taxes was always a giant chore. Betty was a strong Yankee woman of few words. She had many careers in her life but the most important one was as a Mom to David, Mark and Michael. She left their lives too early but she is still a huge part of all of our lives. The farmhouse is still lived in by David and his family who are dairy farmers. There is a beautiful and massive old fashioned red barn that reeks of Yankee ingenuity. (If you like to look at wedding photos, you can see the photos of David and Debbie's daughter Aimee at the farm two Augusts ago here on this website.)


When Betty died, we got a few of her things including the Victorian pewter pitcher that you can't really see holding the peonies and the painting behind it in this photo. Every year my peonies bloom, I pick them and put a generous amount of them in Betty's pitcher. It's one of my own personal rituals each June that makes me remember Betty and thank her for raising my Farmer to be such a wonderful man and father. She would have loved Julia.


Do you have a flower that reminds you of someone or something? Would love to hear your thoughts.

I just found out about this great exhibit that will be opening tomorrow on Cape Cod in Falmouth, MA at Highfield Hall. It's called the Fairy Houses of Beebe Woods. Fiber artist Sally Mavor's blog previews the intricate Fairy Houses being built and installed by various artists. Looks great. I probably won't get there but if you do, tell me how it was.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a lovely post. It brought tears to my eyes. I'm sure your husband treasures your obvious respect and admiration of his Mom. Flowers do remind you of people. My grandad was a tough, gruff farmer who held on to the lifestyle by his fingernails (as you know farming can be a hardscrabble life). He had a soft spot for yellow roses. When we lost him, I never saw so many yellow roses before as I did at his funeral. I smile and think of him every time I see them.

4cats said...

Nice post - it's yellow roses for me, too. I've always loved them, and one day mentioned this to my mother, who has now passed away too. She turned to me and gave me the funniest look, and then told me that my father (who was long dead then) had always given my mother yellow roses when they were dating. And she and I both knew I had no way of knowing this.

Bonnie said...

One of the things I love about plants is that they can be shared. I have daisies from a friend, irises from my mother, and a lily that was a gift for a wedding anniversary. I think of those people every time I see the plants.

Joyce said...

Loved reading your post about your husband's mom and seeing the beautiful flowers. I really associate certain flowers with people - my Dad grew beautfiul sweet peas and my job was to pick them every day and take bouquets to my grandmothers and elderly neighbors - I especially loved the salmon ones next to the lavender ones. My Grandmother grew beautiful pansy's and morning glory (not the weed) and loved me to make bouquets with them. My other grandmother had wonderful Iris', Grape Hyacinths, and Bridal Veil. My neighbor, Clara, grew fields of Cosmos and my Grandpa had a huge field of shredded pink poppies and always had hollyhocks along the fences - my cousin and I would make them into dolls. Thanks for triggering all of the flower memories this morning.

mn_bird said...

What a charming post.

I have peonies blooming at the moment. One big clump is white. When the hubby and I moved into the house, I notice that a peony must have self-seeded in the garden. It was so small. I had to wait 3 years before it got big enough to bloom. During the time, I kept hoping that the blooms would be the same as the neighbor's deep maroon. They turned out to be white, but I actually don't mind. I grew quite attached to the plant during my 3 years of waiting.

As far as remembrances are concerned, irises remind me of my mother. It's not much of a stretch in imagination, since her name is Iris. When I was growing up, she had a garden bed along the driveway that was filled with different irises. I also fondly remember snapdragons and coleus from her flower beds. I especially love snap dragons to this day!

Susan Lea said...

What a lovely ritual! So wonderful that you honor her memory like that!

Esther said...

Thank you for sharing this tender rememberance of your mother in law. My mother in law's birthday is in April and she said that from the time she was a young girl her mother would give her a bouquet of daffodils on her birthday. We continue this tradition to this day, she is 87! My mother loved home grown roses, especially the Double Delight that grows in my garden. It's so comforting to have these tangible reminders of loved ones.

Nancy Wilson said...

I just attended the funeral of my Dads last sibling, My Aunt Margaret. She was 100 years old! My fondest memory of her is the gladiolus she grew. The colors were just beyond your imagination. Row upon row. She grew them on her Minnesota farm for many years. They were planted on a former pig pasture so no wonder they were so awesome. Some were so dark they were almost black. She grew peonies also. The family church not far from the farm has peonies over 150 years old. Got a picture from my son who lives in Boston. Peonies of course! The green thumb goes on!

Jenny said...

Flowers, transplants, scent of them, all evoke memories... oh yes! Roses and mock orange --- remind me of my mom! She'd always fill a vase with roses & branches of mock orange from the yard! She had a green thumb. She'd snap off a sprig of something and stick it in the ground and it would grow!!!

Mrs. H said...

So beautiful.
Peonies, lilacs, hollyhocks, red & yellow tulips, and four o'clocks all remind me of one of my grandmothers, because she and grandpa always grew those in their garden. I have seeds from her hollyhocks and four o'clocks, and this year I have a four o'clock growing in a pot. As soon as I make a bed for them, I will be planting as many hollyhocks as possible! And tulips, peonies and lilacs!

Karen said...

My grandmother was an amazing gardener. She had a garden with an arbor and a path with a gorgeous peony bush at the end. She'd let me have one to carry and I'd pretend to be a bride. I still miss her - she lived to be 96 and I had her in my life until I was 47 years old...

Anonymous said...

Yes, the flowers and their scents do remind me of different people. Such wonderful memories of my maternal grandmother with old fashioned fragrant pinks, pansies, and white peonies, paternal grandmother with peonies of all sorts and iris, my pops with jack-in-the-pulpit, apple blossoms, and beebalm. Sadly, they are all gone from this world but remembered often when I see the apples trees in bloom purchased with money my pops gave us as a young couple when we didn't have much spare cash, or when I saw my freshly transplanted jack-in-the-pulpits and peonies blooming this spring brought to the pacific northwest from the homestead in Michigan's upper peninsula after my pops' passing last fall.

Jan said...

Oh, Kristin, such a beautiful post! Thank you for sharing it with us. My 'flower' memory is one of HolyHocks. My grandparents lived in a little rickety house VERY close to a railroad track in Monticello, IL. In the yard were several holyhocks. My grandmother taught me and my cousins to make dolls out of them, with one flower, inverted to be the skirt and a snipped off bud to be the head by slipping the little bit of stem into a convenient hole in the upside down flower. We imagined all these flower ladies as beautiful dancers swirling around at the ball! It was a treasured activity that we repeated every time we visited. I cannot see a holyhock, to this day, and not think of Grandma Warren. Janice

Cheryl said...

Roses for my Mom and gladiolas for my Step-mom.
Lovely post Kristin!