Winterthur, Delaware, 2008 – 2019


To the secret pleasure of the gardeners at Winterthur, a plantation of German irises was dug up by Henry Francis du Pont (1880-1969) almost a hundred years ago.   

These irises needed labour-intensive, delicate and frequent dead-heading to remove spent blooms without damaging new flowers on the same stalk.


In their place he planted herbaceous and tree peonies. These benefited from the hybridizing work of the American peony pioneers, A.P. Saunders (1869-1953) and the Pennsylvanian, J. Franklin Styer (1900-1996).






There are four stepped platforms with the peonies overhung with lilac and beauty bushes.

At the edge of one of the beds, a few irises have been planted as if in memory of their lost colleagues.





No other plants have been allowed to distract from the beauty of these peonies.  


The whole the greatest pleasure;

the experience and memory unexpected solace from time to time in the quarter century of our sojourn together.






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A peony named for the evening star, Hesperus.


The bushes are dead-headed when the flowers fade. The seed pods cannot be easily used to generate a new plant.  These are mulched.




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The flowers fall down sometimes because their beauty is too great a burden for them.




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Fresh flowers at the front door of Winterthur’s museum.  This is in the park and comprises 175 rooms of the decorative arts of the Eastern US from 1640-1850.



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The flowers fall down sometimes because their beauty is too great a burden for them.

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The flowers fall down sometimes because their beauty is too great a burden for them. 






One thought on “Peony

  1. “Come out here,
    The peonies are in full CRY.
    I remember well the spring morning MC called with this urging.
    I was an hour away – it wasn’t long before I took to the road. Great beauty already in sight –

    the pure lusciousness of peony

    In my former garden I lived with a peony whose name was ‘Bridal Icing’. How perfect & apt-
    I have heard of one who carries the name,
    ‘Rare Flower of Frosty Dew’.

    Have you ever been present the moment the petals give way and spill?

    Sarah, I was taken to a property once –
    A hilly landscape of tall grasses and amongst the grasses were hundreds of peonies in the wild.
    In the distance-row upon row of them.

    You so beautifully wrote,
    “ The flowers fall down sometimes
    because their beauty is too great a burden for them.”
    & I reply,
    Some of us follow suite falling to our knees in their presence.

    I appreciate being able to have a conversation with you through these postings.
    You offer
    I am stirred in one way or another.
    I respond.
    A certain kind of conversation had –
    Thanking you,Sarah Jane

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