Grandpa’s Peonies

Grandpa's Peony
Grandpa's Peony

Grandpa’s peonies started blooming yesterday. My Grandpa Wilson was a gardener. His entire back yard in Norman, OK was dedicated to a garden that he started harvesting in February (potatoes) and finished harvesting in late fall (turnips). He rotated crops, planting and harvesting three vegetables per season in the same rows. His compost pile, at times, was so tall that he had to walk up on top of it — about 5 feet in the air — to dump his compost bucket.

Grandpa was born in the early 1900s in Kennelworth South Africa. His parents nearly starved during the siege of Kimberly in the Second Boer War. The story is that they were starving, but Great-Grandpa and Great-Grandma had planted a garden and knew there was food to be had. Great-Grandpa took a sack and snuck through the enemy lines one night to get to their garden. Though overgrown over with weeds, the plot was full of vegetables. Great-Grandpa filled up his sack and brought the food back through the siege lines.

Grandpa Tom didn’t have a lot of use for flowers (“You can’t eat them”), but there were a peonies planted in the back yard. After his funeral, I dug up a clump, put them in a grocery sack, and brought them back home to Tennessee. Early in the spring, they bloom, bringing alive memories of my Grandpa Tom. I’m blessed.

7 thoughts on “Grandpa’s Peonies”

  1. This post is really beautiful, Beth. It touched me. I’m glad you have the peonies and memories of your grandpa.

  2. @Stephanie — Thanks, cousin. Do peonies grow where you are? Maybe I could fly a clump up to you sometime. Blessings to you … Beth

  3. @Jennifer — Thank you for visiting and reading about Grandpa’s peonies. He left me so much richness … – Beth

  4. Beth, what an amazing man he must have been . . . and I TOTALLY am with you re the flower connection . . . I have some of Mother’s flowers AND some that were in my grandmother’s garden in Louisiana . . . it’s incredibly meaningful . . . as they bloom, it’s like the women who went before me are speaking to me and happy to share their beauty, both inner and outer.

  5. @J. Lee — Don’t you love “heirloom plants”? What kind of flowers do you have from your Mother and Grandmother’s gardens?

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