Garden Peony in Amana

Vintage Peony

Vintage Peony © 2013 Bo Mackison

“The best art of beauty is that which no picture can express. That said, the mere act of looking at your surroundings with intention and perhaps the anticipation of finding a suitable subject, makes you more aware of the diversity of nature. ~ Sir Francis Bacon

Sherpa and I traveled this weekend, a quick trip to visit family. On our way home, we stopped at the Amana Colonies near Iowa City, Iowa. The Colonies were settled by Pietists in the 1850s, immigrants from Germany who came to America to practice their religious faith in a communal setting. The settlers received all that they required — home, medical care, meals, a job, and schooling for children. Everything was shared.  Farming and the production of fabrics, both wool and calico, supported the community, but everything from furniture making to brewing, were an important part of the community. Well-crafted products became a trademark of the Amanas.

During the farm economic crisis in the 1930s and the followers’ desire to live a more independent life, the Colonies adapted to changing times and the communal way of life transitioned into a profit-sharing entity, The Amana Society.  Private enterprise was encouraged and the Amanas were able to thrive.The seven towns which comprise the colonies were declared a National Historic Landmark in 1965. Today the Amana Colonies attract nearly a million visitors who come to experience a place where the past is cherished and where hospitality is a way of life.

We found it a joy to walk the streets and browse the shops and art galleries after being car-bound for many hours. Sherpa even found a brewery and sampled one of their fine ales, while I  had a taste of their ginger ale. But I most enjoyed the intricate flower gardens in full bloom. Te Iowa River, which runs near the town was at flood stage, and so we had to take a few detours to get on the roads heading north and to Wisconsin, but we saw some amazing countryside on the back roads.


Bo Mackison is a photographer and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. She explores, with and without her camera, wherever she travels. There is always something new and interesting to see or do.

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. Gandalf says:

    Beautiful flower.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Thanks, Gandalf. With all the rain we’ve been getting the flowers are growing like crazy!

  2. That must have been a nice stop! I had not heard of them.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      It’s a nice stop. I;ve driven past the exit all my life, but I;ve only visited a few times. When I do, I;m always glad.

  3. I’ve not heard of them either, but what an interesting history.

    And the flower – amazing colour and light! Beautiful photo! If it were a print, I’d have to have it. Just a thought. 🙂

  4. What exquisite beauty! The petals remind me of tissue paper flowers. Sounds like a worthwhile stop along the way.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      They do seem like delicate tissue. I;m always happy when I find a place to explore with lots of variety.

  5. Glorious. Love how you captured this beauty.

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