Photo by Tucker Henderson
Peonies bring a bit of cheer just a short drive from New York Mills.

Tucker’s Telegram

Tucker Henderson

Recently, I was given a tip about some impressive clusters of peonies growing in the wild just a short drive from my home.

These peonies were planted many years ago as part of a continuous hedge of flowers spanning from the planter’s property and also across the road into another row of peonies. The family who planted the flowers those many years ago no longer live in the area, but their name still marks the location of the flower row.

In the 1970s, the Highway Department came through and ripped out a large section of the peonies in order to pave the county highway that ran through the two large rows. Since then, they have been abandoned as domestic flowers and have since been taken care of by Mother Nature.

I certainly wanted to see them, so I decided to take a route which I thought would be the quickest and most scenic way to the location I was informed of. Well, it was certainly the most scenic route, including views of freshly sprouting fields, deep irrigator tracks, and rotting fish carcasses swarming with flies. It was probably the more fun route to take, but I knew I wasn’t going to return home that way.

Anyway, once I finally arrived at my destination, I saw a few flowering peonies in a couple clumps and almost decided I had arrived a bit too late in the season. Instead, I looked a bit further and beheld a huge swath of blooming peonies of every variety of pink. Ranging from near white, light pink, fuchsia and darker tones closer to rose red.

These clumps of peonies were spread out, growing between woodland plants, trees, dead brush, and fence posts. I’ve never been good at estimating, so I won’t try and describe the area that the patch took up, but it was large.

It’s always an interesting sight when you find long-abandoned plants that you know are not native and had to have been planted by people. Peonies are a domestic plant, however, given the right conditions, they can thrive in the wild. Lilacs are another examples of plants that often mark old buildings and homes that have long ago succumbed to Father Time. In fact, there are still lilacs and peonies on my grandpa’s homeplace in Inman Township. Nobody has lived there 20 years, but the lilacs and peonies bloom beautifully each spring and summer.

As you can probably tell, the location of the peony patch is a secret and although I wasn’t sworn to secrecy, I would rather see these plants continue to thrive without being dug up by admirers.

I will give one clue to those of you who want to see them: you’re almost there when you start gagging from the rotting carp fumes. Make sure to take a left at that point.