Kay’s Journal: The Lone Peony

Here’s what I’m writing about in my journal this week!

JV icon K Journal

On May 18, a freak hailstorm caused more than $6 billion (with a B!) in damage to Denver’s west side, creating a six-month closure to a nearby shopping mall and taking out roofs, car windshields, skylights, trees and landscaping with baseball-sized orbs of ice hurtling at speeds of 117 mph. Somehow the interior of my condo complex (we’re built in a big square around several acres of “greenly spirits”*) was spared, and my garden was not decimated

*(I thank you God/ for most this amazing day,/ for the leaping greenly spirits of trees/ and a blue true dream of sky…… –e.e. cummings)

My garden was, however, squashed not once but twice in May by two sloppy, wet snowstorms that mashed my columbines, tulips and 3′ peony bush to the ground. The columbines survived; the tulips didn’t come back; the peony bush lost all but one of its probably 40 buds. It never rose up again and is now a dense mass of leafy ground cover.

The lone peony of 2017. She's beautiful and brave!

The lone peony of 2017. She’s beautiful and brave!

The lone peony, the brave sole survivor of a bizarre late spring, has just died off. Long live the peony!

My garden is gorgeous this mid-June. The two snows–each were about six inches–brought out the most glorious of each flower. They are flourishing. Perhaps the unexpected stress of being buried twice under snow when they were already in bud and bloom activated their hardiness and resilience.

Their example has offered me the opportunity to review the times in my own life when adversity has caused me to dig deep, sink down my roots, and thrive. The result: Unexpected beauty!

June Garden 7-13-17a



Your turn! How does your garden grow?


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9 Responses to Kay’s Journal: The Lone Peony

  1. Cathy Callahan June 14, 2017 at 4:34 pm #

    My garden along my driveway and walk wishes it were an acre and has enough flowers to be that big, all without much help from me…a forest of pink and white Echinacea, lilies, baloon flowers, queen Anne’s lace, hosta, clematis, roses, sunflowers, and althea. Wish I knew how to attach a picture :).

    • Kay Adams June 20, 2017 at 6:58 am #

      I would love to see a picture, Cathy! Sounds gorgeous! Love the phrase “wishes it were an acre” — mine too! (me too!)

  2. Susan de Wardt June 15, 2017 at 12:49 am #

    Kay, your garden has undergone some amazing transitions -and not just by the vagaries of winter. I see new stone retaining walls and a variety of different plants since I last visited. Bravo! My own peonies were also flattened by a foot of late spring snow but they have bloomed from horizontal stems. I am going to cut them and bring them in tomorrow to mix with the baby’s breath and purple stock left from my daughters wedding on Saturday. In preparation for the wedding I spent the better part of the last two weeks weeding all the flower beds around the house while my dear husband added bags and bags of red mulch to help keep retain moisture around the plants. It’s a blessing that the doctor gave me a week off from my,chemo treatments. I had the energy too do my yard work for the first time in two years; the satisfaction of clearing the weeds plus joy of seeing all the new growth and color restored my positive spirits. Then my sister found a tall red Columbine blooming in the woods behind the house. I have tried to grow them several,times but they die every summer. This hardy volunteer is standing tall. A reminder of the serendipity of nature.

    • Kay Adams June 20, 2017 at 7:03 am #

      Susan, you’re absolutely right about the new plants — I’ve been making the shift to a perennial garden for the last several seasons — thanks for noticing! The infrastructure has been here since I moved in (2001) — I built it with a LOT of help from friends. So glad you were able to do “organic chemo” thru gardening!! And I KNOW the wedding was beautiful because YOU were the wedding planner! Yes, the serendipity of nature. Lovely.

  3. Carol Roberts June 15, 2017 at 10:01 am #

    Since I’m presently rooming with someone, I do not have a garden. But I do have a window sill and one orchid (Mother’s Day gift) and one baby succulent. I am living amidst a paradise of succulents, however, and hope to buy a few more to enjoy. Just being in this lovely Central California area has opened my eyes to beauty in myriad forms and not to exclude the birds. Two blue and gray ones came to visit me at my daughter’s home, very close to the front door, as if to say, “Welcome to North Morro Bay!” Love it.

    • Kay Adams June 20, 2017 at 6:57 am #

      Carol, glad you’re continuing to enjoy your new home and all the flora and fauna that come with it! I love birdsong — am writing about that in my blog right now!

  4. Denise June 19, 2017 at 5:03 pm #

    We have 3 knock out roses out back that have somehow managed to escape the plight of so many of their kind – and they are covered in their second round of pink blossoms. My most unusual plant is a pineapple lily, which multiples every year so I can share them with friends. The foliage is on the spikey side – a bit like mother’s-in-law tongue and a shaft of small white blooms shoot up from the center of the plant. It’s a favorite because it is so unusual. The dark purple iris and yellow daffodils share a bed under the rose bush, which is quite tall. And, best of all, we had a nest full of baby blue birds that actually got to fledge this year and a herd (or is it a gaggle?) of baby turkeys strutting through the yard with their mom almost every day for a few weeks now – they have learned quickly to dart for cover when the hawks fly over! Nature’s gifts are abundant this year! Thanks for sharing your photos and your garden adventures.

    • Kay Adams August 7, 2017 at 3:52 pm #

      Denise, the way you describe your garden sounds so sumptuous and extravagant. I’ve never heard of a pineapple lily! Kate Thompson has wild turkeys at her mountain property–they come gaggling at full speed from all the pine trees when Kate and Michael shake a tin bowl of corn kernels for them. It’s crazy funny to watch 50 or more swarm the corn.


  1. Poem of the Month: Peonies, Mary Oliver | Welcome to the new Journalverse! - May 1, 2018

    […] one single Sarah Lawrence bush explodes. This year I’m expecting a delectable froth, because last year the peony bush was mashed down by two late spring snowstorms,   Thus, all that blossoming energy went back inside.  I can’t wait! So I’ll read Mary […]

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