No Peony Left Behind

WELCOME to the 2014  #AtoZ Blog Challenge

Inspired By My Pinterest Boards:  This Year’s Category is GARDENING

DSCN2961“Had I but four square feet of ground at my disposal, I would plant a peony in the corner and proceed to worship.”

–Alice Harding, The Book of the Peony

I walked off and left some beautiful peonies in my first North Carolina garden because I’d been told they don’t like to be moved. A friend driving by that garden several months later slammed on her brakes to get out of her car. Two men were digging up the entire  front bed where I’d left the peonies. “What do you think you’re doing?” she asked. “The lady of the house wants roses here.” When my friend called to tell me what had happened I practically took to my bed. I should have transplanted those peonies and taken my chances. I vowed, never again.

DSCN1081In my next garden I planted anew the peonies pictured here in a boxwood parterre, along with ‘Immortality’ white iris and other cottage garden plants.  They were in the ground almost seven years where they flourished season after season. (I’ve written in an earlier post about the heartache of leaving this garden that made my heart sing. See category-Stepheny the Gardner) It remains to be seen in a few months time if the peonies I moved will make it. I learned my lesson, however. I’m keeping faith that I will be rewarded for my devotion to these plants. We will see what we will see……If you want more information visit The American Peony Society.

IMG_0549Thanks be to God, here on the 14th day of April, 2014, is one of those transplanted peonies. Moral of the Story: No Peony Left Behind

About Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin

Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin grew up in Evanston, IL. and is a graduate of the University of Kentucky. She is an author of two novels: The Greening of a Heart and Facing East. She lives, writes and gardens in NC. Visit her:
This entry was posted in AtoZ Blog Challenge -April 2014 and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to No Peony Left Behind

  1. Patti Hall says:

    Beautiful post, Stepheny. I left precious peonies behind also. I know you will appreciate the story. When I moved in with my late husband, I began transforming his grown-over neglected flower beds. I had recently sold my home and left behind my entire garden, so each treasure I found in his yard was a breath of air for me. The area under a lilac tree and the invasive elephant bamboo, was covered in thick ivy. I worked many weeks, with some help from my adult son, and finally cleared the bamboo and ivy. Imagine my happiness at finding the leaves of a peony poking up. Later I found out it was planted there by his late wife—over 10 years before! I didn’t want to risk moving it, but always made sure it got the nurturing it needed. Two years later I successfully transplanted a shoot of it and placed it in a better bed. I gave another one to his daughter, in memory of her mother. So, when I said, “precious peonies” in the beginning of this comment, well, you can guess how I felt about leaving them…
    I apologize for taking up so much room here.

    • How grateful I am that you have taken the time to write me of your resurrection story on Good Friday. You found that peony and gave it a second chance. If only we could sit and have a cup of tea and talk further about the state of things in our gardens now. Come back when you can. I’ll be waiting for you.

      • Patti Hall says:

        I don’t have the foundation of religion that you do, but I can surely appreciate my story fitting this special day. I will return and I would love to chat about our gardens past and present.
        Warm hugs, P

  2. Rosie Amber says:

    What a lovely tale.

  3. wordstock16 says:

    I saw my first peony on a vacation in Virginia and had to ask someone what they were. I fell in love with them but they won’t grow here so from my vantage point they are precious.

  4. lindalh says:

    I also left peonies behind, and for the same reason. I was also disappointed when the new tenants dug completely obliterated all the gardens. I guess they didn’t want to take the time to care for them? Now I give everything a chance to live or die. That is my motto and mantra now. I don’t have the time to pamper anything but I give them the chance. The pic I took of the lilac ready to bloom yesterday is a testament to that. At least five years ago a friend brought me five lilac “sticks” in a bucket that had been sitting in her truck in frozen water for two days. I planted them anyway. They barely grew, but they did have a few leaves each year so I knew they were still alive. This year they are going to bloom and have grown about a foot. Nothing left behind anymore.

    • I wish I’d talked to you first before leaving the first garden full of so many wonderful things. You would have said, “Go for it, Stepheny.” I’ve learned my lesson and being rewarded for taking a risk. Must be a lesson in that somewhere.

  5. Kathy says:

    Oooohhhh, I felt your pain about the peonies. So glad to see the transplants thriving!

  6. pbmgarden says:

    It’s so sad to leave a garden behind but this story has a happy ending. Do you know the name of your peony?

  7. What a story! Those “should ofs, would ofs, could ofs, always haunt us! Our students are preparing their gardens now. Visiting from A to Z Challenge at Learning at Cedar Ridge Academy and Cedar Ridge Academy

  8. Damyanti says:

    Understood. Shall never leave a peony behind if I do have a flower garden. Have mostly ornamental plants that need little watering right now. 🙂

  9. Believe it or not, even though I’m a zombie lover, I’m also a gardener. I have a huge shade garden in my backyard. Yes, I would freak out if I had heard that some people were digging up beloved plants that I spent time nurturing. A true gardener is someone who appreciates plants. A true gardener would NEVER dig up those peonies, unless they had planned on replanting them somewhere. They would never dig them up just to toss them out for different plants. (It’s not even my garden, and your tale upsets me.)

    Precious Monsters

  10. I’ve never really searched for descriptions or actual images of peonies. thanks to you, now I know what they look like 🙂 Hope your new peonies are growing up beautifully 😉

  11. Very nice write-up. I absolutely love this website.
    Continue the good work!

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