Sunday, May 10, 2015

Bursting with Promise

No, this is not a photograph of a psychedelic alien landscape from a light-lifetime away, nor is it a scene from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  I promise that neither Gene Wilder nor Johnny Depp is going to pop up from those hairy green pillows and sing to you.  And for those who were young adults in the 70's, you should not worry that this is a flashback from an old LSD trip.  This candy-colored scene is brought to us by way of a 1956 single-flowered peony introduction by Falk-Glassock, the aptly named 'Scarlet O'Hara'.

I'm not intentionally trying to imitate Bob Guccione, but these are, in fact, parts...from one of my earliest and most favorite peonies.  And what a brazen display Ms. O'Hara is giving us!  She has erected bright red walls to enclose and protect the participants in today's drama.  Inside the scarlet petals, tall golden stamens loaded with pollen are crowded around the shockingly-pink stigmas atop each pistil, a beacon to beckon the bachelors forward.  The swollen pistils beneath the stigmas are already soiled, basking in the afterglow, their hairy buxom surfaces dusted with the golden packages of chromosomes.  I'm not even going to mention the presence of the white foam at the base of the pistils.   But can't you feel the excitement in this photo, the promise of new seed forming and new life beginning?

'Scarlet O'Hara' is a peony that should be in everyone's garden, She stands right now about 3 feet tall, and wide, a crimson beacon shining across my garden.  There is no other scarlet red flower blooming right now for me, and certainly nothing to match the size and vivacity of these 6 inch diameter blossoms.  The photo of the whole plant at the right displays the usual poor reproduction of red tones by a digital camera and it doesn't adequately communicate the true brilliance of color of this peony, but it does give you an idea of the impact of these flowers in a landscape otherwise filled only with green Spring foliage, the blues and golds of irises and the white clusters of a few remaining viburnum blossoms.

Perhaps a  recent wide-angle view of my "peony bed" will emphasize the importance of 'Scarlet O'Hara in the garden.  There she is, at the top of the photo, glowing ahead of the hundreds of bulging buds of other peonies, all aching to follow her lead and explode into 2015.  'Scarlett' O'Hara' exposes promise for us on a microscopic level; the promise that reproduction will always go on, au naturel and without shame for appearance or wantonness.  The other peonies of this bed show their own macroscopic promise of a massive display a year in the making, a spectacular future fireworks created from sunshine and rain and chlorophyll.  Over it all, a concrete cherub urges the peonies to turn their bacchanalia into a more quiet party, to turn a pretentious display into a coordinated and respectful celebration.  Behind the camera, ProfessorRoush, garden voyeur extraordinaire, breathlessly awaits the chorus to come.      

Promise within and promise without.  Of countless such moments, a garden made.

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