The peonies are blooming again in my front yard, just as they have for nearly 18 years. In a few weeks, I will be digging them up to transplant them into my new home. I know it is the wrong season to move them, but the purchase of the new home dictates the schedule.
These are hardy plants! They have been dug-up and moved at different times by six generations of my family. I‘ve been told; my great, great grandmother (Victoria) planted the original shrubs soon after she arrived in the “Big Woods” near Chaska, Minnesota from her home in Bavaria, Germany in about 1850.
These flowers thrived and grew in that location until they were dug-up, split, and moved to my great grandmother’s (Crescentia) 1886 home in Laketown, MN where she was married and bore 4 children. Within 6 years, three of the children along were her first husband succumbed to harsh life and disease on the prairie. She married again, this time to a widower, who had five children from his first marriage. She brought her daughter and her flowers to live with him in Cologne, MN.
The peonies were relocated with her and quickly established with his family. Over the next 14 years, she bore him nine healthy children before she died in childbirth with the tenth child. My grandmother took over the duties of raising her children until she met and married my grandfather and moved to his farm in Cuba, North Dakota in 1911.
Once again the peonies were moved to a new home, this time to the flat prairies of North Dakota. There my grandmother (Victoria) planted and propagated them on an open field near her farmhouse. She weeded, watered, and cared for them until her death in 1972.
My parents (Clarence and Hermione) moved many of the plants to their yard in Valley City, North Dakota. They shared the spring peony blossoms with friends and family until their deaths within a week of each other in 1999.
The peonies were moved again with each of the six siblings taking a share of the plants. I planted mine in my front yard in Delano, MN where they have grown and bloomed each year.
My move to Ormsby, Minnesota may well be my final time planting and moving these living testaments to my family’s history. I’ve already shared them with the next generation (my daughter Kathleen) and they have been firmly rooted in her home in Dowagiac, Michigan.
Each spring when I see and smell the fragrant peony blossoms, I am reminded of the history of the flowers and the people who loved and cared for them.
Maroon, pink, and white
The buds bloomed again this year
Welcoming the spring
without loves guidance
future is illusion
where blooms give sorrow
These peonies were tended by my grandmother,
Brought from her home faraway
They were planted by her mother’s hand
In another yard many years before.
They in turn were passed on to my mother
Who carried them to a new home
Where she coached the buds to blossom
Just as great grandma many years ago.
Now it’s my turn to tend and feed them,
Cultivate and weed them so they will grow.
So the next generation can share the tradition
Of the beauty that we’ve sown
I’ve told my children how they must follow
The examples of the previous generations.
To continue the needed cultivation
Allowing their family to bloom and grow