Fancy Peony

Peony at Allen Centennial Gardens in Madison Wisconsin

Peony in White © 2010 Bo Mackison

Frilly, fancy, dressed in her finery, this peony was waiting for me at the exit of the garden. I’d already been shooting over two hours, I’d logged in over 350 photos, half taken in my preferred photography pose. That pose, of course, is me lying on my back or side on the cold, stony ground. (It never seems to work as well – these flower macros – if the garden path is something other than cold and stone.) This evening’s path was mostly  chunky gravel–to add an extra touch of texture-y jabs to my ribs.

So I’d had enough-more than enough-and the sun was close to setting. I was ready to reward myself with a stop at a drive-in on the way home for a cold soda. I’d worked up a thirst. Must have been all that up and down activity – like seventh grade gym class, I swear. But then I had to postpone my departure, as I was stopped still by this huge bush of peonies, all in white splendor.

So out came all the camera equipment I had just packed so securely and carefully.The peony reminded me, a bit, of a bedraggled sheet (should I be calling a peony a bedraggled sheet?) but it does. All swept aside, as if someone had opened their eyes at the first bit of morning light, seen the sun calling out a new day, and literally leapt out of bed.

Well, I spent another twenty minutes taking a few peony photos, and then I left and went to the drive-thru and splurged on my Diet Coke. I’m trying to cut down on that stuff – the more I think about what it must be I’m drinking the more I swear I have to give the stuff up. And I do a fairly good job of avoiding soda at home, especially since I can make sun-green-tea all summer long. But there are times when I must have that Coke product and this evening was one of those evenings.

I have a close up of the center of this peony. I think the center looks as if Dale Chihuly himself had designed all the curlicues and colors. So much detail. Wow! That’s for next time.

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:

    Lovely photo

  2. lol! I know all about the ups and downs of flower shooting. You’re right. It’s great exercise.

    Our peonies are just beginning to bud. No flowers yet. It’s nice to see this gorgeous example so early in the season (or what seems early to me).

  3. Anna Surface says:

    A very lovely capture! I have peony bushes blooming like mad; however, we have had heavy rains and the flowers are all beaten down. (I’m drinking a real Coke right now. Every so often I love to have an ice cold glass of Coke.)

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Peonies definitely don’t do well once there’s been a rain. For a big flower, they are amazingly delicate.

  4. Peonies remind me of “home” — they would always bloom around Memorial Day and we would pick them to take to the cemetery. This image is WELL worth spending the extra time at the end of your photo outing. And, you deserve a Diet Coke as a reward.

    By the way, I remember your images of Chihuly from quite some time ago. Cheekwood (here in Nashville) is having a Chihuly exhibit this summer and I can’t wait to visit and photograph…probably more than once!!!

  5. I’d say it was worth unpacking the gear for that one! How well I know that photography pose, and was reminded last week in Arizona that sometimes cactus spines can be part of the situation too.

  6. Such a pretty shot. (And you deserved that Diet Coke! )

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