Peony in Pinks

White and pink peony in abstract

Peony in Pinks © 2010 Bo Mackison

This particular peony is from a peony plant I received for Mother’s Day from a very proud 6 year old, my first born, who saved her allowance and a bit of birthday money in order to buy her ‘Mommy’ the “prettiest pink flower in the world.” ( See why it’s good to keep journals. I read that passage not too many months ago, and made a note to myself – use Jeanne’s quote in a blog post when her peony blooms.)

This 23 year old peony has a life lesson to share. When Jeanne gave me the plant, we duly found a lovely place of honor in which to plant it. It was near the window, center of the back yard garden, and Jeanne was proud that her Mother’s Day gift was so highly visible. But we never took into consideration which spot would best suit the peony, and we planted it next to a rather towering fir tree which blocked it from most of the sunlight. Deep shade would be the precise description.

The saying “Bloom where you are planted” doesn’t seem applicable to peonies, or at least to this particular peony. Though it did bloom, it did so with much hesitation. Year after year, it would put forth 3 or 4 blooms – if we were lucky. Though it grew and it was green, it simply was not thriving.

It took us way too long to figure out its dilemma, and then another few years before we actually were motivated enough to uproot the peony bush and transplant it to the sunny side of the house. Now, the sunny side of the house is also the quiet side of the yard – a space between our garage and our neighbor’s garage, and it doesn’t have much foot traffic. Not too many people see the peony in bloom unless they make an effort and walk around the house to see it. But the space is large and sunny and the peony likes the quiet garden.

So now we have a really happy peony. This year I quit counting blossoms once I reached fifty. The peony doesn’t care if it’s in a place of honor where everyone can admire its beauty. The peony does care that it gets its basic requirements for healthy survival – a bit of rain and a lot of sun. When its basic needs are met, it does its best to put on a spectacular show of flowering.

Just like people. When their basic needs are met, they reward you with a good effort. But like the peony, it’s hard to be a spectacular bloomer when you are a sun lover and you’ve been planted in the shade.

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. Peonies have to be among my favorites!! Gorgeous lines in this. Wonderful abstract! T’is definitely the season for these beautiful flowers!

  2. Lovely. Lovely. Lovely. I’m not used to seeing you do abstract work…but am so glad to see this. And, to read your thoughts.

    I’m headed up to Illinois this weekend. What about you?

  3. Your photography is beautiful, as are your blooms!

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Thank you Nancy. I work hard on my photography. And flowers are always a pleasure to photograph.

  4. Gandalf says:

    Lovely pink waves.

  5. Anna Surface says:

    Again, another stunning view and capture! Beautiful folds and edges and light and shadows in pink. I’m glad the peony bush is really happy. 🙂

  6. Bo Mackison says:

    Yep, happy peony bushes make for lots of flowers.

  7. Spectacular, Bo. And I really enjoyed the words of wisdom that came with the lovely peony.

  8. Bo Mackison says:

    Thanks, Robin. Lots of lessons to be learned from nature.

  9. kate/high altitude gardening says:

    Hi, Bo;
    Found you through blotanical. Loved reading this. When my Mother passed away 3 years ago I confiscated all of her beloved peonies from the old homestead, prior to it being sold. I fretted more over those transplants than any I’ve ever planted. I like your thinking. Once I figured out what they wanted they settled in and seem happy in their new home. 🙂

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Thanks for visiting, Kate. I love peonies, too. But they always seem to get hit by a downpour as soon as they’re in full blossom. Rained last night. These peonies are all drooped on the ground today.

  10. Very pleasing image, Bo! The history of that plant and your care for it make a great story!

    We have four in our yard that are now about 15 years old and we planted them because of pleasant memories of peonies from many years ago. It was one of my mother’s favorite flowers and she raised some beautiful ones.

  11. Amazing photograph, Bo! I love the abstract direction you are moving in. So intriguing!

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Thanks, Quinn. Lately I do seem to be seeing flowers in more abstract forms when I’m out with my camera.

  12. I could stare at your work for hours! Fascinating!

  13. Again, such a wonderful story to accompany your work. I am thinking a book is in order, or maybe I am biased. But I found this photo to have a very “watercolor” quality, in the sense that it looks like a series of paintstrokes. Very awesome!

  14. Bo, oh Bo. Your photograph is lovely as always, but your prose completely blew me away. Long have I admired people who write in journals for just the reason that you mentioned. Sadly, my level of discipline doesn’t rise high enough to include journal writing. The way you wrapped this story around people and peonies with the most perfect ending I’ve ever read … just … wow. I’m sharing this with some folks, dear. Love it, love it, love it.

  15. I love the peony and the story about it….especially the ending. You do beautiful work! Can’t get enough of it.

    What camera is your favorite?

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