Monday, May 25, 2015

on roses and peonies


I love all flowers equally. So why, I wondered, am I so obsessed with painting roses?
The answer came to me last winter, when I was snowbound and leafing through the David Austen rose catalogue, fantasizing about the rose borders I would plant come spring (didn't happen).

Charlotte: approximately 100 petals. Lady of Shalott: approximately 60 petals. Thomas Becket: approximately 63 petals. (Love the odd number.) Buttercup: approximately 25 petals. Approximate. Variety. Ah-ha.

 Variety is the key. There seem to be infinite variations in the colors, but also the structure of roses, which, for one as vague and messy as myself, is most appealing.


And yes, I do know that these are peonies, not roses. 
I was at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden last week, 
the roses were just getting started,
but the peonies were in full glory.
(And aren't their centers interesting?) 

They have some of the same characteristics as roses. 
All those petals! And the way they fold and curve. 
I always think of ball gowns when I see them. Princess dresses.

 No wonder brides love them.


It looks like an individual. Distinctive. A bit shy and flirty.



I've gotten used to the big diva-like ones that are so popular
(hundreds of petals, thousands) 
and it was nice to see some that are a little more demure.



My own peonies are still wrapped up in their tight buds. 
I look at them every day, hoping to catch them unfurling.

26 comments:

  1. Hi Jennifer, I like the simple forms of wild roses and related flowers such as apples with their fewer petals and delicate colors. It is true that these sometimes rely more for effect on masses of blooms rather than on individual flowers. The smaller, less-complicated roses also have a special way of integrating into a fascinating overall pattern of flowers, compound leaves, thorns, and hips.
    --Jim

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree with you, Jim, about preferring those with fewer petals. Your phrase "pattern of flowers, compound leaves, thorns, and hips has given me an idea for a post. Thank you!

      Delete
  2. oh, I love, love, love peonies. my birthday flowers. I do hope I get some this year. which would be a first. and about time.

    I love how you compare yourself to roses. vague and messy. a great way to look at it xoxo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you get it. :-) And hope you get your peonies.

      Delete
  3. They are lovely. Our red peonies are beginning open - a week early this year.The petals of the red one in your photo seem to have frillier petals than ours.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel like there's a universal peony watch on, Karen!

      Delete
  4. I don't know a thing about roses. I had no idea they were categorized by petal count. I've been loving the lowest petal count roses lately. No reason really, they just appeal to me. I'm looking forward to your peonies.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think they're actually categorized by petal count--that's part of their description. I learned a good bit by reading the (free) David Austen catalog. Seems like none of us are getting blown away by the overblown flowers.

      Delete
  5. Jen... I didn't know about the petal count on roses... The knock-out varieties are so popular here...full, lush bushes with a gazillion blooms. Mine didn't flourish so we moved to another part of the yard with some improvement. The peonies are breathtaking. A new one bloomed for me this year...just 12 purplish-pink petals per flower with a beautiful egg-yolk yellow center....Just lovely! More peonies, please!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad that your peonies are doing so well, Susan. I can only imagine how beautiful the roses must be.

      Delete
  6. For a minute there I thought my peonies were going to bail on me since I thought these were yours and you've got to be easily two weeks behind us. Mine aren't blooming yet, I go stare every day wonder if that works. I've aways thought peonies and roses were cousins.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cousins? Maybe they are. Time to investigate. I think of roses as English and peonies as Japanese, but really have no idea. My peonies are very slow to bloom, but it's interesting to check them every day.

      Delete
  7. I've never been to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. You'll paint yourself through the end of your rose love and then…..who knows what's next!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I went there all the time when we lived in Brooklyn and now I'm plotting how to move back there. My son and his wife are moving within one block of the BBG, the Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Library. That's where I want to be!

      Delete
  8. You are so lucky you still have your peonies to look forward to. Ours lasted about two days, big storms took 'em down.

    You can't hurry love you know..

    xo J

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They definitely can't withstand heavy rain--hope you got some inside!

      Delete
  9. Oh, I love these beautiful flowers !! Your collection of flowers is wonderful !!
    Greetings

    ReplyDelete
  10. I LOVE roses and peonies. They are similar in so many ways. Although I am a lot more successful with peonies than roses. Our peonies are doing extremely well this year. I will post them on Monday when I get back. (I am in NYC helping my daughter get settled in for her summer job). Will you post your rose paintings?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My peonies are taking forever to open! I haven't tried to grow roses byond simple bonica types, though I'd love to one days. I post paintings here occasionally. Tryong to get together a painting site or blog…

      Delete
  11. hey there jen, lovely to be visiting here again after my introverted awayness...

    my daughter loves roses but, given the choice, i prefer peonies. they seem just that little bit ilder and freer in themselves. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are so many kinds of roses though, I find the variations intriguing. Peonies always make me think of dancers.

      Nice to see you!

      Delete
  12. We had our youngest daughter's wedding at this place. Everything at wedding location venue was spot-on perfect, the venue, the food, the view, the service and fortunately even the weather. Cannot recommend the manager and his staff more!!!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Lovely! I love roses and I like peonies.

    ReplyDelete