Sunday, May 20, 2007

Prepping the Big Peony Unveiling

A lot of people really complain about having ants in their gardens ... and they really shouldn't, because as anyone who's ever had Peonies knows, you'll never see a bloom if you banish the ants from the vicinity. And since the species of ant that flocks to Peonies (what I call carpenter ants) isn't the kind to invade your house and raid your food, I see no reason to discourage them from doing what comes naturally to them ... nibbling away at the protective layers of the bud above the Peony flowers, thus allowing them to burst forth into bloom and perfume the environs with their unique and delightful fragrance.

Traditionally in our area, people expect Peonies to really come into full bloom around Memorial Day weekend, and it looks as if ours will be right on schedule this year, despite the April cold spell. I've already seen a few open in the neighborhood and it's just a matter of days before ours start their annual performance.

Though I'm not the most knowledgeable person with regard to Peonies, I do know that they figure prominently in Chinese symbolism and flower culture (see the Wikipedia link above), and that in the realm of the perennials, they are the closest flower to anything that one could consider an immortal. I can remember seeing some stands of Peonies (when I was younger) who were growing in odd spots in vacant lots, until I realized that a house had once stood there. The house may have since disappeared, but the Peonies prevailed over time ... and I like the thought of a flower much more tenacious than the works of humans. It gives me hope that even if human kind's plans don't last in the long run, there are beautiful plants who are willing to stake their claim on a space and continue to flourish, long after human traces have disappeared. I see no better reason than that alone to justify dedicating ample space to these magnificent flowers!


olivia said...

That's a great photo! Yep, ants on the peonies ... makes me think of my grandma's garden ... she had huge peony bushes and they would always be covered w/ ants ... Now I have a couple of my own and always check for the ants.

Family Man said...

That was really quiet nice what you said about the house gone, but the Peonies still came back.

I don't worry too much about ants except for the fire ants down here. I've tangled with them before and didn't like it.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

I know what you mean, FM, about the fire ants, having dealt with those regularly when I lived in FL ... that's one species of ant I can quite do without! (Remind me one day to tell you about my "ants in the pants" episode with those vicious little bastards).

Carpenter ants, however, are very mellow ants and unless you bother them, they are quite happy to go about their business prepping the peonies and rarely bite unless provoked. We appreciate them being in the area, because as I said, if you don't let them do what they need to do, there will be no peonies! And a life without the brief period of peony blooms is a life lacking in beauty and fragrance ....