Playing with Peonies

Earth laughs in flowers.—Ralph Waldo Emerson

My plane landed in DC shortly before midnight on Saturday. With ears buzzing from a three-hour drive followed by five hours on planes, I was eager to unpack, start laundry, and reunite with my pups and Tim. I knew Sunday was a big day—off to Pharsalia to cut my own peony bouquet!

We needed to bring our own shears, bucket, and vase, so Tim got me pink ones while I was away. When we pulled into the drive of Pharsalia, it was like inhabiting a new planet: rolling hills, flowers, white picket fence, swings, greenery.

Tim dropped me off and I met up with a friend who had also traveled down from DC for the event. Over the next few hours we were giddy about the experience. Foxie (yes, that’s the owner’s real name) showed us her walk-in cooler filled with peonies while we all oohed and ahhed. Then she walked us around the property showing various flowers and greenery from bushes to add to our bouquets.

Next came the rows and rows of peony plants. I’d never seen so many peonies! The baby pinks were still in buds, but the bright pinks were ready for cutting (and matched my bucket). After taking way too long to choose my 15, we cut more greenery and flowers from bushes to add as filler as we made our way around the property.

We raced back to the wooden farm tables to assemble our loot. My vase was a small cylinder and I kept adding more and more peonies along with a smattering of greens, white and yellow flowers. You’ll see the final product in the bottom photo and I’m holding it on the bench above.

Yes, it was worth a seven-hour drive!

Our home smells like perfume. This morning when Belle woke me up to feed her at 5am, I opened the bedroom doors and a floral bouquet wafted throughout the living area. It was dreamy (and not just because it was 5am)!

Peonies are by far my favorite flower. They are so delicate, layered, and soft—just like us. Peonies represent a fragile beauty that we, too, possess deep within. Bisous. x


This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
to break my heart
as the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers

and they open —
pools of lace,
white and pink —
and all day the black ants climb over them,

boring their deep and mysterious holes
into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,
taking it away

to their dark, underground cities —
and all day
under the shifty wind,
as in a dance to the great wedding,

the flowers bend their bright bodies,
and tip their fragrance to the air,
and rise,
their red stems holding

all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly,
and there it is again —
beauty the brave, the exemplary,

blazing open.
Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?

Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and softly,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,

with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing, forever?

from New And Selected Poems by Mary Oliver

4 comments

  1. Sharon says:

    Looking at the beautiful pictures and reading your description of the day made me feel like I was right there with you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *