“The long roots of the peony strike deep into the past.”
– Alice Coats
Today I’m sharing a peony that I have many of and I don’t believe this is the first blossom either. Several blossoms opened a few days ago, so it’s hard to know. The plant itself came from abandoned (expropriated) farm near my home. The family who used to live there (Spangs) were close friends with my wife’s family and are distant relations.
The land was expropriated (taken by the government) back in the nineteen seventies, with plans to build an international airport. Those plans never materialized and many families were displaced for nothing. Over time, houses and farm building were rented out or simply abandoned to rot. Many of these farms also had beautiful gardens at one point, now overgrown with grasses and thick shrubbery. I noticed the bright pinks of these peonies from the road, as I drove by and asked permission to dig them up. Permission was granted and I proceeded to recover some twenty plants, some of which went to my gardens and others were given to friends, as well as planted in the gardens at my kids’ school.
I have no idea how old the plants are, but peonies can live for close to a century and these have roots the size of yams. I have a touch with peonies and most plants bloomed the next year. These are also prolific bloomers, with each stem producing up to three flowers (you can see two more buds in the photo), making for a terrific display.
As I enjoy them, so do others and I’m often asked about them. It’s nice to be able to tell this story, give a bit of local history, and simply enjoy the lasting beauty of these deep pink blossoms, as they fill the air with their rich fragrance.
This richly fragrant, deep pink relic is one of the oldest peonies of all, and yet, writes expert Martin Page, it’s “still one of the best.” Introduced in France soon after the first lactiflora peonies arrived from China, it has been cherished ever since for its “good form, strong color, and delightful fragrance” (Boyd, 1928).
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm
2.0 sec, f/32.0 ISO 100
High Resolution image on 500px