Sunday, May 20, 2007
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!