Sunday, January 10, 2010

Peony tales - conclusion (PKW)

Not saying you'll need one but I promised the possible kleenex warning and here it is!
As soon as I got home I called the neighbor who plowed my gardens and asked him to come over right away to cultivate a new field for me. He came that same evening and worked up the rich, black earth into what seemed like a huge bed.

When my children left for school the next day I took a bunch of boxes to the farm and started digging, being careful to keep each tag with each tuber. About ten minutes into the digging Doug came home and said he had the day off work and he was going to start plowing right away! Oh no! Lori and I dug and dug and piled peony tubers into the truck helter-skelter. We were covered in dirt and mud but no matter how fast we dug the rows still stretched on.

We heard the tractor starting up and realized we were never going to get finished so we grabbed two more plants and then watched as that shiny metal started ripping out years and years of beauty and history. Did I mention I never did like Doug?

It made me sad to watch so I left to drive carefully home. Careful of the blisters on my hands, careful of my precious cargo.

When the kids got home from school they filled buckets of water from the spring and we spent hours and hours planting the 27 plants that had been rescued. Five had tags. The rest were a mystery.

They all grew. Each one into magnificent plants laden with blossoms of every color from the palest yellow frills to almost black single blossoms. Most of the varieties I could never identify. I found out later that the man who had lived on that farm for over fifty years was a peony breeder and had varieties from all over the world.

Each year I lived in that old house the peonies took my breath away. I could feel the history in the blossoms. Feel the mystery in the unnamed varieties.

Sometimes I thought that leaving my beloved farmhouse and my gardens and my friends would break my heart entirely. But time does heal all wounds, eventually. Or at least make them manageable.

Several years ago when I was back in Ohio I asked the people who now live in my old home if I could walk around the yard. The peonies were gone. The old apple trees were gone. The perennial beds were gone. So much was gone. All of that clutter was just in the way of mowing they told me.

I left that day feeling so sad. So much lost beauty for the sake of an hour or two saved on a lawn mower.

That tiny kernel of sadness for loss still resides in my heart…for the lost peonies and the lost dreams. There is a small consolation recognizing that the blossoms are still inside with me in memory. I can easily close my eyes and recall the feel of the moist, rich soil under my hands as I cultivated around them. My mind still sees their glorious colors illuminated in the late afternoon sunshine.

But sometimes no matter how vivid the memory, my heart still grieves for the passage of time and the loss of something wonderful.

Tend your peony beds carefully, my friend. They may never come again.

If you missed the first part of this story just click on this link.

48 comments:

Aunt Amelia's Attic said...

-sighhhhhhhhhhhhh-

But with a lesson, at the end.

amelia said...

Ohhh that is so sad...

I can completely identify with the way you feel..

Betsy from Tennessee said...

For some reason, Jenny, this post made me cry... I guess I'm an old softie when it comes to thinking of things past and gone. When I go back to my hometown to see my old homeplace--I leave very upset. For you see, in the name of 'progress' someone now has 'my' old home --and they have totally changed it, not just the house but also the yard. I wouldn't even recognize it anymore. How sad is that...

Glad you saved at least 27 Peonies that time...

Hugs,
Betsy

Lottie said...

27 beautiful peonies are a treasure worth more than money

Many years ago, I read an old Chinese Proverb which said, "Never got back to a place where you were happy"

And do you know how true it has turned out to be. Through lots of 'sadnesses' I have stuck resolutely to that proverb - even in later life where I am happy. Any place I have been or something I have experienced, I have kept it special - not wanting to re-live, experience or re-visit the experience, place, or whatever - as have found, just like you did, that sadly things change and are never as 'special' as before.

Just focus on the beauty you remember, rather than the sadness of the reality since. It sure hurts less.

Best wishes for a joyous 2010

Gail said...

Hi-

beautiful story - and I am so aware of taking care of all the peonies in my life. :-) thanks for sharing this heartfelt story about love and loss and what's important.

Love to you
Gail
peace......

Busy Bee Suz said...

What a beautiful and sad story Jenny. I am so glad that YOU are able to see the lesson in the midst of heartbreak. Thanks, Suz

Sarah said...

Jenny, what a beautiful poignant story. Peonies are a magical bloom for me. I don't grow them, but i do purchase them as cut blooms when availble. Oh the fragrance that fills the house! Thank you for sharing this story. I'm happy for you that you rescued what you could.
Thanks for stopping by to visit. Hope to see you again soon. ~ Sarah

Julie Schuler said...

Terrible! I hate Doug, and all the peony slayers.

Fresh Local and Best said...

J - This is a bittersweet ending. Happy to know that 27 peonies saved, but I'm devastated that the other treasures were plowed under.

Brenda said...

Oh man, my heart is about to break for you. I lived in the same house for 28 years. It was in the city but was a little house in the middle of two double lots which made quite a large yard. I love perennials so during all those years I added gardens and many,many perennials. When my husband and I decided to sell and move because the neighborhood was just crumbling around us and he wanted to get out of the city, I had a hard time leaving not only my home but my gardens. We moved in December and I was unable to dig up starts because most were buried under the snow or had disappeared under the soil for the winter. Our sale went through in November but the home we bought was not available until December so my middle daughter took some starts and I dug a few starts up for mom in law and a friend. I am working hard to start over but I hear you it is hard to think about what was left behind. I do have peonies here though which I did not have before. And I do love them.

grasshopper said...

A beautiful, touching story. I have only just recently learned to grow things and I'll try to remember to appreciate every bloom.

Sheesh - what was Doug's big hurry?! (I don't like him either.) I'm glad you could save what you could - you are also a Woman of Action!

Lemonade Makin' Mama said...

Peonies are my absolutely favorite flower in the entire world. And the really sad thing, is that my brand new, awful yet adorable puppy has been digging in my flower bed and I'm afraid my peonies won't be coming up this year... I'm so glad I'm not the only one who gets emotionally attached to a flower.

5thsister said...

I am so glad you were able to save what you did. Peonies remind me of the backyard garden of my childhood home...where admist chaos and dysfunction (both in the home and in the garden) they were the one spot of beauty and grace to be found and savored. Unfortunately they were always full of ants. Story of my childhood.

Thanks for the invite...I think I'll stay awhile!

My name is PJ. said...

Yeah, Doug and the homeowners who leveled the beauty? Further evidence that people suck. More reasons why I love animals.

We went back to our MD home after 8 years and the new owner had taken out every single garden...and the beds under the trees too. I'm sorry I had to see it.

{better than candy} said...

hello. beautiful flowers! thanks for stopping by... i actually grew up in ohio.. lived there most of my life. God bless!

Suz said...

Now this about broke my heart
what a jerk...couldn't wait till you were finished....
I pity his wife...
my husband wouldn't dare cross a woman on a mission
and Julie Shuler..I'm ready to join your brigade...Peony slayers indeed!

Cedar ... said...

What a story! As a peony lover it really bothered me and I could actually picture that tractor coming. I have two peony bushes that belonged to my mother-in-law. My new house had nothing so my son's been bringing me things every mother's day. He now lives in his grandmother's house and is making sure that her flowers live on now that she's gone. Great post!

Linda said...

What sadness came from such joy in the Peonies! Of course change will always come and it is hard to go home again. I love to live in the moment and treasure my memories but always look forward. Somehow being a collector helps me feel connections to things that once were loved (at least I would hope so) and now bring them to a new home to be treasured. We are such a disposable world anymore and that saddens me more then anything.

Kim said...

This story was beautiful, but I felt it stab right into my heart when I read that you had gone back and it was all gone. I try not to think about the day I have to move from my house and someone will not see all the joy, hard work and beauty in my garden, but instead see too much work and rip it out.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

I felt so sad to read this post and part one, Jenny. I've seen so many places in my life lose their charm in the name of progress or ease. You know that old saying "you can never go home again"? It is so true, because memories are often so much better than reality.

I hope you can grow peonies in AZ?

laterg8r said...

that just sucks!!

Midday Escapades said...

I've never been much of a gardener, but always admire folks who can.

Thanks for visiting my place. Happy Sunday, SITSta! Best of luck with your giveaway.

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

I am such a sap. This totally brought tears to my eyes. Peonies are my favorites. I no longer have peonies and I keep meaning to plant again but life gets in the way.

I love how they poke their little heads out and how the ants come and free them. I love fragrance, the delicate beauty.

Thank you for your post.

Martha's Favorites said...

Jenny: The story was so beautiful and so sad. I do not know how I would feel if I have to leave my garden. I have maybe 100 roses, what would happen to them? Would a lawn take there place? People are so much in a hurry, they forget God's beauty. Please pray for me. Blessings, Martha

MrsJenB said...

What a sad but beautiful story. I hate when beauty is destroyed for the sake of ease. Good for you, saving whatever peonies you could - you loved them and that's what matters.

Holly said...

My heart dropped when I heard they called them clutter. Oh what amazing flowers and history gone...except for in your memory. Peonies are so beautiful.
Holly @ 504main and hipweddings

Kelli said...

:( I love peonies and we will be enjoying some this year for the first time. My MIL has had them for years and we love them so she gave us some for our own yard. We have 2 acres and many flowers that I never find to be 'in the way for mowing'. What sad, colorless lives those folks must lead.

Country Wings in Phoenix said...

Oh Jenny Sweetie...
How could they?

You had such a beautiful garden and there was so much history there, and they thought it was in the way of mowing? Oh my gosh. They could have at least advertised so that anyone that wanted some of the plants could have came and transplanted as you did, but no they just mowed them down, or took them out? Oh how saddening. I am so sorry for you.

You know what they say tho Jenny? You can never look back.
Country hugs sweetie...Sherry

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

Thank you for your visit to my 'place'!

What a heart-breaking story. I'm a gardener and have several varieties of peonies that I grow and it made me so sad to hear read your story.

The ruffled purple peony in your picture is so beautiful! I've never seen one like it before.

Bumpkin on a Swing said...

Loved this story. I have printed out the closing, and I will carry in my coat pocket for a while. A great lesson.

This makes us friends right?

Happy To Be/ Gl♥ria said...

How sad Jenny...you know girl I have never been bad to my old home since I moved in 1986 because I don't want to see what it looks like now...I want to still see it in my heart as it was...Thanks so much for coming by girl...You made my day...Hugs and smiles Gl♥ria

Deborah Ann said...

Came here to comment again for a garden entry, but am leaving a different person. How sad to have all that work and beauty ripped out! I didn't know you had such a tender heart, Jenny. I do now.

Mary Ellen (megardengal) said...

Wow am so glad I came by you blog! I am so wanting Spring to be here so I can get out in the garden and get my hands dirty!

Mary Ellen (megardengal) said...

I became a follower

Mary Ellen (megardengal) said...

I also blogged and linked to your giveaway

Cynthia said...

Heard the story before, but like you I still miss my garden and plants in Chicago! My ferns and hostas, sob...

Melinda Cornish said...

that is really sad...some people just dont appreciate things like peonies and apple trees.....poor them.

mbkatc230 said...

This is so heartbreaking. And Doug sounds like a total jerk - I feel so sorry for his wife (are they still married?) But I'm so happy you were able to save some of that beauty, even if only for awhile. I get so tired of people tearing things of beauty up in the name of "progress" - Big Yellow Taxi indeed. Kathy

Auntie Cake said...

I so adore the peony. Every year I buy myself a new bush, and try to find some tubers in the fall that I don't have yet. That story was a hard one to read. All those lovely flowers... It's making my itch for spring, and we still have many months of winter yet here!
Kate

Terri and Bob said...

I am taking the lesson to heart. I love this story but wish the fields were still there. Can we sell properties with conditions?

Rural Revival said...

I made the mistake of going past my old house last summer, it is so sad to see neglect. One homes gain is another's loss. What a great story, even if far too many beautiful peonies were lost. I enjoyed reading it!

Be well!
~Andrea~

Laurie said...

Oh how awful! I love peonies!

All My Yesterdays said...

Oh Jenny, finally got here to read your memories...how sad. It brought tears. Don't you hate it when someone just don't 'get it'...
But you did your part, which doesn't surprise me at all.
The name Lori and the loss you felt hit home here...

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Mrs. Adventure said...

Oh nooooo.... Jenny that's so sad. I think after all that I would have asked the new owners before I moved. I'm so mad right now. And I feel like planting peonies.

Splendid Little Stars said...

Oh how glorious those peonies must have been!! And then to have discovered they'd been plowed under! very sad.