Photo by Melody

A Peony With a Past

By Cathy M Wallace (cathy4April 3, 2014

Call me sentimental, but tears well up as I divide my favorite plant, Grandma’s pink peony. It doesn’t have a fancy name, but it has lots of history.

Gardening picture 

My first memory of Grandma’s peonies are as a child. They were planted along each side of her narrow city yard, all the way out past the ash pit to the alley. As a child, it seems like they went on forever. Dad tells me he was a little boy when he and Grandpa dug these out of a garden, just ahead of the construction crew that was building what would eventually be a highway.


My dad moved a clump to the new little house before I was born. He was the gardener in our family despite working 2 jobs. Having my birthday in May, several of the old black and white pictures include the peonies in the background. Just one flower had bloomed for my First Communion Day, you can see it peeking out from behind my fluffy white dress.


A division arrived on my birthday after my husband and I moved into our first house. My Dad isn’t usually the gift giver, but he realized how much I love those flowers. And I must admit, I dug up the whole plant and moved it with us 8 years later. Can you remember how proud you were when you took handfuls of flowers to teachers every spring? Mine took Grandma’s peonies.


It has been over 20 years since we moved here and my daughters now have homes of their own. We are planning to start their gardens next spring after working lots of leaves into their clay. As the foliage died back on Grandma’s peony, I began the divisions and tucked them into pots to over winter in the nursery. Grandma’s Peonies are well over 70 years old now, and as beautiful as ever.


Passing plants to family and friends is a time honored tradition. Take a look in your gardens and remember the special people attached by memories to your plants.



(Editor's Note: This article was orginally published on December 1, 2007. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to respond to your questions.)

  About Cathy M Wallace  
Cathy M WallaceI'm rediscovering the joy of being in the garden, playing in the compost, remembering gardens from my childhood and dreaming of those to come. Physical challenges are helping me learn all about raised beds, lasagna gardening and new tools. In addition to our yard, my husband and I take care of several gardens at church. We love our family, friends, travel, writing & laughing.

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