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.