For reasons I’d only be guessing at, it’s a great year for Paeonia ‘Molly the Witch’ (Paeonia mlokosewitschii). It could be that it’s the third relatively moist summer in a row, or it could be that last year I removed a huge miscanthus that used to almost entirely swallow it alive every year. But for whatever reason, it’s flowering as well as it ever has, with fifteen perfectly spaced, perfectly orb-like flower buds in primrose lemon.
It’s hard to work out if I get more pleasure from the beauty of its current moment, or the joy of its backstory.
The beauty of the moment contains the above accumulated perfections, along with an exquisite fragility that demands your attention. At a glance, you know that this moment can’t last, and a still, small voice whispers that if you overlook it now, when would you ever give it the time it deserves, and are you really, therefore, worthy of its graces? Are you, for all your online pontifications, just another swine before which its perfect pearl-shaped buds are pointlessly cast?
So I give it the time, and each moment is richly rewarded.
Then there’s the backstory. This is the oldest perennial in my garden, having been grown by me from seed collected off the fire heap at Great Dixter by my longest term gardening friend, Michael Dale (his working for Beth Chatto for a year overlapped with my summer working with Christopher Lloyd at Dixter. How did we ever get so lucky?). He was lolling about on the dry fire heap in late August 1991, on my last weekend at Dixter, and threw the seeds down to me. On returning to Australia, I grew it on, and such is my suboptimal husbandry, it took about a decade to flower at all.
But now it’s an every year thing. One that lasts about a week, if I’m lucky.
What plant in your garden holds the best backstory?