Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Thinking of Thanksgiving tomorrow has made me think of what I am thankful for in my garden. I am thankful for most of the plants in my garden, but if I had to choose one plant I am most thankful for it would have to be my tree peony. I have a lot of history with that tree peony. I first saw tree peonies back in the 1980s in Lancaster County. We were driving along a road in Strasburg, PA, and we kept passing houses with these large shrubs with masses of huge pink flowers on them, and we had no idea what they were. My friend Lisa finally stopped the car and knocked on the door of one of the houses and asked what the plants were. And that's how I found out about tree peonies.

When we moved to this house in 1989, the first plant I bought for my garden was the pink tree peony pictured above. I bought it at the old Reston Farm Market, and I think it was $15.00, an enormous amount of money to spend on a plant back then. And now I have had that very same plant for 21 years  and it has never failed to thrill. Every year I rave and gush to anyone who will listen about the size and beauty of these blooms. I have friends who come over just to see my tree peony. I have had parties just so people can see my tree peony. I remember one of Julia's friends when she was little, coming over "to see the tree peony." Of course it is me who encourages this obsession.

The blooms are as a big as a dinner plate--truly--and are so paper thin and of the clearest pink you can imagine. They are very short-lived. They bloom right around the first of May, and there have been times when they are just beginning to bloom and then we get a big storm and they are done. But that is part of the thrill of them. They bring me so much pleasure, even if for the shortest time.

I even love my tree peony right now, on a cold and rainy November morning.

Mostly, of course, I am thankful that I have a garden,  even this little piece of earth in suburbia. It is my own garden, that I can plan for, experiment with, get my hands dirty in, photograph, pick flowers from, obsess about, write a blog about...I read a lot of books about gardens and visit many beautiful gardens, and while I would love to have a big cottage garden in the country, or on a lake, or with a mountain view, I am just happy and thankful to have my little garden--every day of the year.

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