Tag Archives: Peonies

No longer a one trick p(e)ony

I had a little peony
Nothing would it bear
But a tiny blossom
every other year……

and even that was after many years of bearing nothing at all.

But this year my peony, which is at least a decade old, decided it was time to show me what it could really do. No longer is it a one trick p(e)ony …..

Look what I can do! I have more than one trick up my leaves.

Look what I can do! I have more than one trick up my leaves.

And in the spirit of ‘anything you (peony) can do, I can do better’… neither am I , just a one trick pony !

Because after umpteen years at the computer I have finally learned how to make a video.

Making the video, and daring to publish it, would not have been possible without the support and encouragement and inspiration I receive from my wonderful WordPress community. My heartfelt thanks to you all for being with me on my WordPress journey. I completed my third year this week.

© silkannthreades


You can’t keep a good peony down

Kerry’s beautiful  peony retrospective the other day, and her query about peonies in New Zealand, sent me scurrying into my own peony archives .

This is what I found: 6 posts with photos and/or references to peonies. My peonies were one of the first subjects to feature on my blog when I began Silkannthreades in 2012.

Back then I was looking for a way to see this ~

Paeony at the Back Door

in the midst of a physical and mental environment like this ~

Bedraggled as a winter- worn peony

Winter- worn peony plant








In my archives, I re-discovered that one of the first people to help me  start my journey of  blogging transformation  was   Cindy Knoke.

Unfolding opulence

Unfolding opulence

Another paeony at the back door.



Welcome back Sweet Peony

Welcome back Sweet Peony

Making the most of one sweet peony

Making the most of one sweet peony


Since those early days in 2012, Cindy has liked and/or commented on almost every one of my  approximately 360 published posts. Many of you are friends with Cindy, too, so you will know  I am not the only one she supports and encourages and enjoys spending time with on WordPress. She is a phenomenal blogger and friend.

So this post I dedicate:  to  Cindy, for being a stalwart  from the beginning; and to Kerry , for inspiring me to dig deep into memory roots, and reflect on her words:  “nothing keeps the peonies from blooming again.”  (You just can’t keep a good peony down. :D)

Some readers will know from Kerry’s latest post that her neighbourhood is feeling the anxiety and stress of having two escaped convicts in the area. Please keep Kerry and her community in your thoughts.




Out of the Gloom come Gems of Loveliness

Continuing on the theme of   surprises ,  it is surprising what gems of loveliness can be found, tucked away,  in the gloom

There be GLOOM!

There be GLOOM!

of the back rooms of our lives.

Inspired by a friend’s gift of plums from her backyard tree,

Plums, pretty and perfect

Plums, pretty and perfect, rich gems of juicy fruit

I was fossicking in the attic,

in search of my books on  JAM , plum jam, when my eyes lit upon the long-forgotten face of Sister Wendy Beckett,

contemplative nun, writer, broadcaster and art lover, who recently appeared on Desert Island Discs, talking of her life, her love of  Schubert’s Serenade , and confessing to the sin of being nasty to her little sister 😦

I was thrilled to see her again and to reconnect with her meditations on peace, and  to realise how greatly she influenced my understanding of art,  in the days before online art galleries and Wiki and blogging.   What a remarkable person, I heard myself saying, communicating, as she does, so clearly, from the silence and  physical confines  of her world. …

not unlike this poem, of which Sister Wendy, defender of Classics and Latin, would surely  approve, which my daughter wrote for me, in  the solitude of her nights in   Far North Queensland

To a  Peony

(in which my daughter remembers the day, when she was extremely sad, and her mother gave her a sweet-scented peony from the garden )

Welcome back Sweet Peony

Welcome back Sweet Peony

Dark leaves, put forth thy anniversary.
Honey may burn; thy nectar rises up
like sugar syrup in a warmer cup,
ribbons the water. And say how can it be,
thou growest so magenta, when the hew
of thy first stock was white? Unless it was
among the hedgehogs and the heucheras
the lost  god stopped and wept his ancient dew.
Colours stand faster in the dimming air;
so in the long grey drizzling afternoon
of dying hope, was thy expressive bloom
placed by a gentle hand into my care;
I see it still, in my mind, in the gloom
unfolding endless petals in my empty room.

*td* (first draft)

© silkannthreades


The days are busy; the evenings too. Not with big, important tasks;  just  the minutiae of daily life… . bread to bake, clothes to lavender, meals to prepare, groceries to buy, dishes to wash,  feet to scrub, vases to fill, socks to find,  hair to brush, a friend to visit, a neighbour to chat to, a letter to write, an email to send, a text to answer, and phone calls to make and  to receive….

My mother is improving and gaining strength. She will return home soon, we hope. Her  progress is good. I phone her once, sometimes twice, a day. A hospital is a busy place.  Our conversations are brief.

But I  grab a moment of the call, to talk to my brother or my sister; whoever happens to be with our mother when I phone. They are tired. I hear it in their voices. Whilst one sibling is at the hospital, the other cares for the house and my father. Care responsibilities are 24 hours.

Later, when it is 1 in the morning here, I may phone my sister again. It will be 10pm in Cairns. We discuss the day’s events. I am yawning and, suddenly, my sister switches from talking about hospital matters to something about ‘hammering nails’. I am silent for a while, wondering what this means. My sister is silent, too, for a moment. Then she laughs and asks, “What did I just say?” “Something about nails,” I reply. She laughs again; her great,big, only-my-sister-can-laugh-this-way, laugh. “I fell asleep. I was talking in my sleep,” she says.  A short while later, it happens again. We hang up before our words become any more incomprehensible 🙂

There are other calls to make at other times. To friends; to my aunt, in a rest home, to let her know that her sister is okay; to my uncle and my aunt who are moving to their retirement home. To others we Skype. My father likes to Skype chat. He types well and knows how to use those emoticons 😀

Thus are the smallnesses that occupy my days; that keep my fingers flying, my voice activated, and my brain engaged (mostly).

But there are other smallnesses that rest my body and mind; that communicate by ancient paths and provide calm and continuity,

and call forth joy every morning.

© silkannthreades

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

Moments of whimsy

When my house flowers are past their use-by date, I usually put them in the compost bin. Last week, I decided they were still too pretty to compost so I set them floating in the bird bath. The water bath revitalised the flowers and the floating flowers revitalised my spirits. Not sure what they did to the birds; created consternation and confusion most likely. The cat, who sometimes likes to drink from the bird bath, probably doesn’t appreciate the flavoured water either. Poor creatures; what they have to put up with because of my moments of whimsy.

Rose and Peony Water