The rain has left a trail of rose and peony petals across the lawn —fresh and fragrant — as though just strewn by a flower girl at a wedding. It’s always heartbreaking to see these first fragile blooms of summer scatter to the ground. We waited so long for their arrival, checking daily through the long, chilly spring for signs of progress. Then one morning we turned from some task to see the row of peony bushes had burst into flower seemingly overnight. The roses, too, had blossomed — a magnificent bounty this year — so full and heavy the branches bowed under their weight.
The garden offers so many necessary lessons right now: patience, tolerance, the fact that nature will always remain beyond our control. But perhaps the most difficult and sad of all the lessons is the truth that nothing lasts. A host of other perennials are waiting in the wings, of course: the shasta daisies and phlox, echinacea and monarda. Sturdier and more reliable, most will keep their color and shape right through to the fall. Still, it’s hard to accept that the peonies and the first flush of roses are gone already, this year of all years, when anxiety fogs the morning air and the ground keeps trembling beneath our feet.
by Mary Jo Salter
Heart-transplants my friend handed me:
four of her own peony bushes
in their fall disguise, the arteries
of truncated, dead wood protruding
from clumps of soil fine-veined with worms.
“Better get them in before the frost.”
And so I did, forgetting them
until their June explosion when
it seemed at once they’d fallen in love,
had grown two dozen pink hearts each.
each one a girl on her first date,
excess perfume, her dress too ruffled,
the words he spoke to her too sweet—
but he was young; he meant it all.
And when they could not bear the pretty
weight of so much heart, I snipped
their dew-sopped blooms; stuffed them in vases
in every room like tissue-boxes
already teary with self-pity.
So beautiful. I had just emailed a friend and mentioned how I noticed today on my walk here in Maine that the peonies are browning and on the way out. Sad, so beautiful, so short-lived, just like the lilacs earlier.
Thanks, Cheryl. And you’re so right about the lilacs this year. I blinked, and they were gone!
The Peony Speaks in June
Damn, signs the peony
My buds have been swelling for weeks
in the cool spring rain.
Now, at last my time has come to dazzle
with multiplicty of petal
luminousity of hue.
I’ve only just opened
and already it’s 90 degrees.
My petals are lax wth this heat
and is that thunder I hear
are those black clouds to the North?
This storm will finish me off in an hour
And I’ll have to standhere all summer being green
just a backgroud for the less flowers
that get to bloom for months.
And before you know it I’ll have to start getting ready
for next June’s show
It’s always well received but
year after year, has such a short run.
Thank you, Sue!
Looks just GREAT ! Sorry I’m not with you. S/ Cowboy Bill
And we’re sorry, too!
Great post. Thanks Liza.
Thank you, Phyllis!
Lovely, sad and true of all things. There is no holding on. I guess that’s why silk flowers were invented. That’s also why I love the seasons. Thanks Liza.
I love silk flowers, too!
Your post is a poem in itself, Liza! And the photos are lovely….makes me homesick for the Berks! Can’t wait to get there if COVID allows.
We can’t wait to see you, Bev!
How I envy you your garden! It is absolutely glorious! And your photographs really capture the elusive beauty you describe. Of all the things getting me through this troubled time, nature is the most soulful.
Almost forgot to respond, Liza.
Beautifully written and beautifully portrayed in the photos. Loved reading it, words and visual perfect!
Thank you for this.
Thank you, Beata!
Thanks, Anders. I’ve rediscovered the work of Mary Jo Salter over the last few years. This is a perfect description of what peony stalks look when dug up for replanting at the end of the season: “arteries of truncated, dead wood protruding
from clumps of soil fine-veined with worms.”
Just love the wedding reference. Really, the whole piece. Much to think about.