The peony has long been intertwined with the women in my family. A deep connection from birth, one that binds us together through the generations.
My great grandmother, used to grow congregations of white ones with a pale pink center in the front of the family homestead in deep South Mississippi. Her daughters grew up to acquire her affinity for peonies, passing on these terms of endearment to their daughters and their daughters’ daughters. Even after she had passed and the old farmhouse had burned, her descendants held tight to her matriarchal legacy symbolized by her surviving peonies. Bulbs were distributed to her kin, who keep vigil of her spirit in their gardens.
As if reminding us of our own humanity, the time of peonies is brief, but their presence in any landscape is provoking. Captivatingly beautiful and exuding grace, one could sit forever waiting for a peony’s bloom to awaken and reveal itself. To us the language of this flower, with its soft layers and contours, is divinely feminine, one that evokes our connection with motherhood. Throughout the years, the peony has become a sort of intrinsic talisman, representing love and honor for the women in our family. A gift that we bestow on our own mothers with an ever perennial lifespan.
Here in Asheville, you can find them everywhere. Perhaps it is that strong spirit of and devotion to motherhood that permeates the mountain soil. So in celebration of my female lineage and newfound role as mother, I am dedicating a peony garden at our new home — a place where I can plant abiding seeds of maternal energy and love for generations to come.