These are my bare-root peonies: Sarah Bernhardt, Karl Rosenfield and Shirley Temple. Have you got them in your garden? I’m sure they’ll look beautiful in a few years time. But they look pretty ugly at the moment and I don’t know which side is top which is bottom. For now, my job is to put them into the soil and wait. Gardening forced the word “patience” into my dictionary. I just hope they’ll come out of the ground before I forget about them or dig them up by accident, like all my poor bulbs. Maybe I should take a photo and draw circles to remind myself.
Peony is called Mu Dan in China. Clever Chinese people in the history observed the climate, nature and land carefully and marked 24 special days in the lunar calendar for horticulture purposes. They all have a name of their own. For example, Xia Zhi is always the longest day of the year, Dong Zhi is always the shortest day of the year. The first one in March is called Jing Zhe. Around this day every year, all the insects start to come to life, birds start to sing, frozen rivers start to melt. It marks the beginning of a farming year. It was designed for the nature in China so it doesn’t really work here in the UK. But being Chinese, I’m proud of the intelligence of Chinese people in history and I planted these three peonies, the traditional floral symbol of China, in my English garden.