One year I went to the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. I went with a friend, E, who also liked to garden. This was back in the days when I actually liked to garden. I don’t know if I got lazy, or my priorities just changed, but now a nice lady with an AAS in landscaping comes and takes care of my yard, while I enjoy the flowers from a cool remove.
But, back to the story. One time my friend E and I went to the Northwest Flower and Garden Show together. We bought peony starts. When I was a kid, we had a peony in our front yard and I remembered it as one of my favorite shrubs.
I took mine home and stuck in the ground, near my front walkway. And I waited.
That first year, nothing much happened. The stalk grew a bit, but no blooms appeared. The peony died back to the ground that fall. I waited again.
The next year, the stalk shot up in the spring. Things were looking pretty good. I thought I might get a bloom or two. Then one muddy day I stumbled on my way to the mailbox, crushing the young peony and ensuring no blooms for that year.
The next year, again the stalk shot up in the spring. Maybe this would be the year I would see some blooms. My hopes were high until, in a fit of obsessive edging, I accidentally chopped it down with my weed whacker.
Meanwhile, E taunted me with lush descriptions of her peony blooms. I started to suffer peony envy.
By the fourth year I was determined to take better care of my peony. I resolved to keep both my feet and the weed whacker well clear of it. I was rewarded by 2 blooms. Meanwhile, the peony bush appeared to be building an impressive root mass below ground. I was optimistic for the following spring.
I thought about getting one of those industrial workplace signs, but instead of having it say “It has been (XX) days since a workplace injury has occurred” mine would say “It has been 360 days since a peony has been injured in this yard.”
By the 5th year I finally got my payoff. The peony bloomed spectacularly. Eager to return E’s taunts, I counted blooms – my peony had 13. Thirteen lush, globular, pink blooms. The day most of the blooms opened, I gazed adoringly on my peony bush for a good ten minutes.
And, it was a lucky thing I got a good look. The next day my neighbor, in a good-intentioned show of neighborliness, came over and used his blower to tidy up my yard. Did you know one of those leaf blowers can blow the petals right off of 13 peony blooms? Yeah, neither did I.
I started to wonder if my beleaguered peony had some kind of curse. But, there was nothing to do but accept the exfoliation of my peony and hope for better next year.
The following year the peony grew fast and strong. It produced so many branches that even if someone were to have a mishap with a foot or a weed whacker, there would still be plenty of peony to survive into the summer. My neighbor and his leaf blower stayed far away.
Now the peony is so much a mainstay of my front garden that those early, difficult days are just an amusing memory. I’m sure there’s a lesson in there somewhere, about perseverance, or the resilience of living things.
Here’s the peony as it looks today. Quite a beautiful lady, is she not?
And, oh, by the way – for anyone who has been wondering about my job hunt, I got the job. Just under 26 months from the start of this adventure and I have a full time job with a major airline. I’m quite happy about it.