It’s strange what comes out…..

My first peony of the season is blooming. In a few days’ time I expect to have a minimum of   two peony blooms , as I did on November 1st, last year. Dear Peony Plant, always so reliable, at least as far as seasonal timekeeping is concerned.

Welcome back Sweet Peony

Welcome back Sweet Peony

My peony’s heritage can be traced back to my  great aunt’s   garden in Ashburton.  I was given the cutting/root from my great aunt’s peony  by her niece. I watched her take the cutting from  a plant that was covered in  beautiful white peonies. Yes, white!

I have had my “white” peony for nearly ten years now. It took a long time to establish itself but, in about its fifth year, it sent out its first tentative bloom. It was pale pink 🙂 And, each year since, the blooms have remained determinedly, and stubbornly, pink; indeed, each year, they seem to blush a slightly deeper shade of pink.

No matter the colour, pink or white, or any variation thereof, I love my peonies. Here is my collage that makes the most of today’s one precious bloom.

Making the most of one sweet peony

Making the most of one sweet peony

In 2011, ( the latest figures I could find ), New Zealand exported 800,000 peony flower stems. Most went to Hong Kong, Malaysia, Taiwan and Japan. 35% of the blooms went to the United States.  Peonies made up only 3% of New Zealand’s flower exports. Apparently,  orchids are our top floral export. These are heady figures.

Perhaps, there is a New Zealand peony near you, right now, in a bouquet or vase, or waiting for you to gently choose it from a display on a flower stall; to gently sense, within its silken honey-dewed petals,  the essence of our southern spring.  Will  you sense that our spring is strangely warm….28 degrees celsius today?

© silkannthreades

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114 thoughts on “It’s strange what comes out…..

  1. Pingback: You can’t keep a good peony down | silkannthreades

  2. lagottocattleya

    True beauty. And heritage. Peonies bring out the best in people, I think. The colour! Your photos tell of your love for this flower and it goes through the computer screen and straight into my heart. Now is a wonderful time in your country, I understand.

    I read your “about the little things in life” – again. I often think about your message with these words…because the little things are the most important ones. They are the only ones that really matter.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      So glad my flower reaches all the way across the world to your heart. I would send you a real bloom if I could 🙂 Thank you for reading my About page again. I treasure the little things as you do.

      Reply
  3. ordinarygood

    The colour intensity of the peony is glorious. Peonies are not familiar to me at all but I have seen from your post and comments that they like really cold weather. It is heartening to think that despite this area being miserably cold at times it is not cold enough for these special flowers.
    Don’t we export a lot of loveliness to the world? Go us!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Yes, we do give the world some good stuff. Just a pity that all we seem to hear about is our milk and cheese exports. And, how Australia won’t take our lovely apples 🙂

      Reply
  4. Clanmother

    I’m almost finished with a biography of Georgia O’Keeffe. It has given me a whole new perspective of flowers. Your post was a reaffirmation!! Loved it.

    “Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small. We haven’t time, and to see takes time – like to have a friend takes time.”Georgia O’Keeffe

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      And she was a person who really saw flowers; at least it seems that way from her art. I am admiring my precious peony bloom so much today. It has withstood today’s raging wind and still looks beautiful. It is determined to thrive.

      Reply
  5. Elephant

    How on earth do you keep up with all these comments? I can not imagine how you can follow my tiny little blog while so many people are following and commenting on your blog – wow! It is lovely that you have such an active following. I am so lazy it would be far too much to have all these comments and followers. You are amazing – you have been so generous – thank you so much – you are too kind (and far too busy)!

    With much respect,
    Elephant

    PS These are beautiful photos – I love the world – you are entering spring and I am happily enjoying fall!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Glad you are happily enjoying Fall; she is a beauty, after all! I love your blog. You have no idea how you have encouraged me to go and take a very good look at the illustrations in my books. If you were here, we would have a fine time discussing them. I am developing a much deeper appreciation for all the old books around my house.
      All the lovely comments; well, you will laugh when I tell you that,in real life, I am considered a very quiet person; it seems to me that I am quite the chatterbox. I bet somewhere in your books you have an illustration of a chatterbox because that’s an old-fashioned word and idea.

      Reply
      1. Elephant

        I will be on the lookout for a chatterbox. I think I’ve seen one, but I can remember were . . .

        Nice that you have your books – the illustrations are a pleasure – just open the books and there they are!

        Hi Ho,
        Elephant

        Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Martha has a blog? Goodness, I have been living in dreamworld if I have missed that. Thank you for your kind words. Wishing you a Happy Weekend too. Halloween celebrations for you, I suppose?

      Reply
  6. cindy knoke

    Peonies are my first favorite flower! Among so many, probably because they will not grow ever where I live and I can only buy the blooms about two weeks a year. Stunning flowers and fotos ma deah! Lucky ducky! Kudos~

    Reply
  7. Virginia Duran

    Oh, curious. Flowers are like people some times, in the good meaning I mean. It’s strange to imagine the hot weather over there, here (I am in Spain right now) looks like winter is coming 🙂

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      How true. Flowers can be like people. Some flowers have very distinct personalities! Strange to hear you talk of winter coming because mostly when we talk of Spain we add “sunny”.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      That made me laugh! But, in a way, it’s so true. The plants we choose say a lot about us, I think. About our personalities, our social and financial status, our interest in flower fashions….gosh, don’t get me started, I’ll be here all day! Oh, and this great aunt had the most fabulous children’s playhouse in her garden.

      Reply
      1. Mrs. P

        It’s funny the things that become our most cherished memories of our family. My aunt was telling me about her great aunt and she lit right up saying that she had the most wonderful chest of toys.

        Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      They seem to like colder climates. My neighbour was telling me that she tried to grow them in a warmer climate once and even resorted to putting ice on them to help them grow. She said it was a wasted effort 🙂

      Reply
  8. Forest So Green

    Peonies are loved here in Minnesota, so many people have them in their garden, I think they tolerate our cold winters well.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I am not sure how close you are to the Cambridge Botanical Gardens which you mentioned in your blog, but I see they have a special area for peonies (Lynch Walk) which I am sure you know well. It must be beautiful in Spring. Their website is showing the bounty of your end of season and there is an Apple Day on 27 October. YUM.

      Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Hope you will let me know when they bloom 🙂 Perhaps next year your group will be crocheting peonies. I think they would look good in crochet form.

  9. tiny lessons blog

    It’s very beautiful! We used to have peonies in my childhood home up north. Also, I find it fascinating how the earth is “organized”: you are celebrating spring and everything comes to bloom, the nature bathes in beauty and for us here on the north side our last flowers for the fall are blooming still in a few places and soon the winter will be upon us. It’s wonderful to see pictures from your garden as it “wakes up” to summer!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Pleased to share whatever bounty I have in my garden. Do you think our plants are secretly using the power of the internet to increase their popularity/survival stakes 😀 :D? Yes, the earth is very well organised. It is an astonishing system.

      Reply
  10. Sheryl @ Flowery Prose

    So pretty! I love the fact that your peony has a history of being in your family; my Mum and my aunt have divisions from my Grandma’s peonies, taken after she passed away and the farm was sold. They’re wonderful mementoes of the lovely garden my Grandma had. But the new plants are the same colour as the originals!

    You are having fabulous spring weather! We are having an amazing autumn, too…today we are supposed to reach twenty degrees! Very unusual for this time of year.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      We have another warm spring day! Do you get to see the peonies (from your grandma’s) when they flower at your Mum’s place? I can imagine the memories. And, how well behaved they are to keep their original colour.

      Reply
  11. Heather in Arles

    Oh how I do love a pivoine or peony–just as I love imagining flowers from your world up here in Europe…what a gorgeous thing to send out into the world…

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Isn’t it just? I do hope we manage to grow them ,and send them, in an environmentally friendly way (that does worry me a little). Pivoine; I like that. I also like paeony. One virtual stem of peony I send to you; oh, what the heck, make that half a dozen 🙂

      Reply
  12. mixedupmeme

    Coming to make a little noise on your blog. 🙂

    I remember having peonies in our backyard as a child. I don’t remember mother doing anything out of the ordinary to them. Her roses and pansies and whatever else were in a small long plot beside the driveway. I realize now what special care those plants received. I can’t make a thing grow or perhaps not willing to spend the time.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Hello, *little noise* 🙂 I think peonies like being left to themselves so perhaps you could grow a peony! My grandfather grew pansies along his driveway and I used to love chatting to their friendly little faces as I skipped up and down the driveway. Yes, I was that kind of child :). Pansies are hardy. But roses? They can be divas.

      Reply
  13. YellowCable

    Peony is one of my favorite flowers. This is one is gorgeous. I did not know that they are imported to US. I wish I can ask them where they are from. I learn a new thing. I did not know that their colors can change like Hydrangea.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I am not sure that the peony is supposed to change colour like a hydrangea. It’s just that mine did something strange. Next time you see a peony, you could ask where it is from. It would be fun if they told you it was from New Zealand 🙂

      Reply
  14. Joanne Jamis Cain

    I have had a white peony bush for almost ten years. Someone gave me the first root and it was slow getting started. But I get lots of blooms now, each year, and I think peonies are probably my favorite flower.
    My mother used to have a peony bush with that same fuschia color as yours.
    It’s nice to see your blog this morning, especially since it’s getting colder and colder here!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Brrrr; glad the peony gave you a little burst of warmth. And I am so happy you have a lovely white peony. Perhaps you will share a photo of their beauty when they appear next year. 🙂

      Reply
  15. KerryCan

    Americans love their peonies, too–maybe we got them from NZ! Some people have peonies that are generations old, like yours is, and can tell you their whole story. Mine are only a couple years old and some don’t bloom yet but I love them! Mine are all dying back for the winter, here, so It’s lovely to see yours in full glory!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Oh, I am glad to know that some of yours aren’t blooming yet. I thought mine might be uniquely weird in its habits. It is just being a normal peony after all. Did you buy yours from a nursery/garden centre? You can tell if properties around town are old (even if the houses are new) because they will often have rogue peonies, as well as remnants of japonica. Oh and Belladonna lilies too.

      Reply
      1. KerryCan

        Someone told me that they don’t bloom because they are planted a little too deep and are very fussy about that. But the same person said NOT to dig them up and re-plant. Instead, just wait and, apparently, it is their nature to rise up in the bed a little bit each year and, eventually, they’ll be at the right spot. Isn’t that weird? But it worked for you!

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          That is very interesting information. If I ever get another peony, I will remember this ( I hope). But, yes, some plants are fussy about their foundations. I think the clematis is like that too. My clematis and I still haven’t come to an agreement about the right conditions for its development, but I don’t want to dig it up again because that makes it very cranky.

        1. Gallivanta Post author

          I actually wish there were more emoticons, like the ones we use on Skype. They are very useful although some people don’t like using them.

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Not sure about a green thumb but I have been very very very patient with this peony. All those years when it didn’t flower, I almost gave up on it and wondered if I should remove it. I wonder if New Zealand peonies have ever appeared on Martha’s show? She probably gets hers from Chile. Oooh, but I like the idea that I could make the cut for a Martha mag shoot 😉 . Wouldn’t that just make a person’s day!!!

      Reply
  16. Tracy Rhynas

    What a beautiful flower, and the colour is gorgeous! Do you think the colour has anything to do with the pH level of the soil? I know Hydrangeas range from blue to pink depending on the soil, but then, my gardening knowledge is not great! (My blog alerts are working again, yay!)

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Yay to the blog alerts ! So pleased. I think there is a possibility that the soil is a factor. And you are right about hydrangeas. Mine are across the garden path from the peonies. They are supposed to be blue, beautiful pale denim blue. But guess what? They keep on turning up pink! This year I have put extra blue-ing agent in the soil, so let us see what happens.

      Reply
  17. afrenchgarden

    Beautiful peony. I have lots of plants in the garden taken from other peoples gardens and they are always more special as they are memories too. I haven’t had such a surprise like your white peony gave you! I think the stem must have been what is called a “sport” and would have become red on the mother plant eventually. Is it common for white peonies to have red blooms on occasions?

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I also love having plants that come from special places and with special memories. I thought it would be wonderful to carry on the memory of the great aunt’s white peonies but that was not to be. You could be right that it is a ‘sport’. Also my soil is quite different from Ashburton soil so that could be a factor too. And maybe white peonies do have red blooms sometimes. I really don’t know much about them. The other peony I have is also pink and it must have been part of the old garden that was once on this property. Paeonies seem very long lived plants.

      Reply
  18. pleisbilongtumi

    What a lovely flower you have. I know this species is origin to Asian continent too, but I have never seen it grows and cultivated in my country. It is amazing that your country export such large quantity of the Peony flowers. Indonesia’s export was only 500 ton of various cut flowers last year. There is no data of how many stems they were.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Yes, you are right about the origin of the peony. I think it needs cold conditions to grow successfully. I would like to grow more of them but I don’t have enough room in the garden. I am also amazed at how many we export. They always seem a very fragile flower to me so it must be a delicate job to export them to the rest of the world.

      Reply
      1. pleisbilongtumi

        Most of the flowers are fragile and very prone to the temperature change. It is usually half wilted wrapped in fine paper and packed in hard carton box with certain numbers of layers in each box, depend on the kind. For cut flowers, they must be no more than 2 layers. They can stand for few days, 2 to 4 days during the transport in 18 -24 degrees C. The box must be labeled “fresh flowers” or “live plant” to avoid being stored in freezing room or container by the third party.

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          It is a business that requires great skill and there must be a lot of risk involved; so many things can go wrong enroute. Are orchids the main flower export from Indonesia?

  19. lizzierosejewellery

    How amazing that the flower changed colour! I bet you were very surprised: it must have decided it was a female plant! Anyway, it’s gorgeous. I saw lots of Peonies when I lived in Hong Kong and wouldn’t have a clue where they came from; now, I know!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I was surprised and disappointed, at first, but now I am simply happy to have beautiful peonies. I was also surprised at how far our NZ peonies travel!

      Reply

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