My mom used to love peonies. In Germany they are called "Pfingstrosen", roses of Pentecost because they flower around the time of Pentecost which is in late May or June. They would appear in the gardens in colors ranging from pure white to deep red. They are stunningly beautiful flowers.
When my mom died 10 years ago I planted peonies in her memory. Now, peonies in California is a bit of a different story from growing peonies in Germany. Peonies die back in the winter, and usually they need some good frost. A decent amount of rain doesn't hurt either. Both are not necessarily always present in California.
But it can work. I had some lovely peony bushes at our old house. When we moved I didn't have any peonies for a couple of years, but bought them at Trader Joe's instead (like the ones in the photo above). However, last year I planted some peonies. Usually they take a while to bloom for the first time, up to three or four years. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised when I noticed that two of the bushes carried promising buds. And indeed, they displayed a couple beautiful flowers.
Back home in Germany I used to buy peonies at the farmers market. It was one of my simple joys to go there on a Saturday morning and come back with one of two bunches of them. And not only that - I often mixed them with delphiniums or lupines, whatever I could find at the flower booth.
I loved to arrange them in vases with French lilac or put just one or two flowers in a glass vase and used them as a center piece on the table for dinner with friends,
I remember that I had a lot of fun with that!
But peonies - and other flowers - are also used as decoration in traditional parades. During one parade in Rothenburg ob der Tauber I saw the hat of this man and loved the way it was decorated.
My peonies are almost gone - we had some very hot days, and peonies don't like heat too much. But I know that very soon I will find them at Trader Joe's, and then once again my home will be filled with them. It's as if my mom was still around.
We are having crazy days at work. The school year is almost over - two more weeks - and that means a lot of work for us in the library. Imagine more than 1600 kids returning their textbooks, about three per kid on average, and those things are heavy. Usually I'm pretty worn out when I come home, so it might take a while until I will visit you.