Polly's Peonies


Although we celebrate the summer solstice when we’re in Vermont, I always feel that I’ve been transported back to an earlier time of the year. It’s not just the cooler weather, though it does feel strange to be dressed in my winter layers to welcome the arrival of summer! Trees are still wearing their spring green, and gardens are full of flowers that bloomed weeks ago in Virginia—lilacs, bearded and Siberian irises, and my favorites, peonies. The farmers up the hill from our cottage have an enviable garden that sits in full sun behind their big old house. For decades the garden has thrived on the loving attention of Polly and careful inclusions of cow manure dug in by Dexter. Neither of them is up to much of the work now, but the plants keep right on singing. When I paid a visit before leaving, the peonies were overflowing in their beds. Light pink, dark magenta, white, and red—varieties that probably can’t be found in any of the fancy plant catalogs. Polly has always been generous with her flowers, and every year I come home with peonies to photograph in my studio. It’s a bit of a squeeze getting them into our packed car, but I’m willing to ride home with the jar on my lap! It’s worth it to have the sweet scent of peonies in my house for just a few days in June.