Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A LIBRARY, AN OLD HOUSE AND PEONIES


Years ago… our oldest daughter (and boyfriend) rented a rambling old  house with lovely flowerbeds, in the heart of downtown, adjacent to a small library. My husband and I used to marvel at the architecture of the house, compared to the antiseptic modern look of the library. The woodwork inside this house was exquisite. It transported you back in time. My daughter wanted to live there forever. Unfortunately, she was told the lease was up, because the home owner had decided to sell the old house, to the library. It seemed the library wanted more parking spaces for their facility… and planned to bulldoze this relic of the past, into oblivion… and then blacktop the empty lot. This was heartbreaking. All of us were saddened that the house would be no more. Some of the old doors and hardware were salvaged. But I wondered what would happen to all the gorgeous plants and flowers surrounding the house’s foundation. I was told they would be plowed under. This upset me more than you can possibly know. I asked my daughter if I could dig up a few of the peonies. I had heard they were originally put in, when the house was built… back in the 1930’s or 1940’s. That meant they were very old and had a rich history. In my mind, transplanting them somewhere else, would preserve the memory of the house. She said the owner didn’t want anything touched. I thought it was an atrocity. My husband knew I was losing sleep over this and made a suggestion. We’d plan a  covert operation, the two of us,  to save the plants. So that is exactly what we did. Dressed like cat burglars, under the guise of darkness, armed with shovels and plastic bags we rescued 4 peony plants, the day before the demolition. It was exhilarating to be able to pull off such a feat. We hid them out of sight for a week, anticipating all hell to break loose. But it never did. Nobody ever noticed they were missing. So… these precious plants were placed in our flowerbed, with love and tenderness. Unfortunately, only two of the peonies survived. We felt guilty that we had taken them from their native soil. We confessed what we had done… but our daughter had moved on and didn’t seem to care. Twenty years has passed. Our flowerbed in now overgrown and neglected. It makes me sad to see it in such disrepair. But despite that… these beautiful, resilient peony plants… still open their pretty, fragrant heads, every spring… hidden among all the weeds. They bring us great joy, and remind us, of a house, in our daughter's history that will always live on, in our hearts.


PS) Pictures of the old house 
 are buried in a box 
somewhere in the attic.
Could not find them at this time.

16 comments:

jaz@octoberfarm said...

how horrible that they wouldn't let the plants be rescued. glad you got the peonies!

jaz@octoberfarm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jon said...

What a wonderful story - I love it! It's such a shame, however, that the owner of the house didn't want anything touched. I'm glad that you were able to rescue at least some of the peonies.

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

How wonderful that you can still enjoy those peonies. It is sad when lovely old homes are torn down and replaced by parking lots. I love older homes and mine is near 100 years old. The wood work is beautiful and something that you don't see at all in house built today.

betty said...

Pretty flowers! Glad some survived. It did seem like a lovely home. What a shame though that it was plowed down for parking. That seems to be the way things go, which is sad. I don't get why the owner wouldn't want anything touched, especially if it was going to be plowed under or dozed over. I think I might have done the same thing you and your husband did by saving some of those plants.

betty

jack69 said...

I like this story. Until I started reading Bonnie over at Organic Discourse I never knew folks treasured 'OLD' plants. Now I know she is not the only one, The Cat Burglars like them too! (smile)

blogoratti said...

Wonderful story, heart warming!

Sheila Y said...

I am glad you saved some of those plants. Crazy that they wouldn't let people save what could be saved. Sad that someone couldn't have moved the house to another location. :-( take care, Sheila

Paula said...

A very interesting story, thanks for sharing.

Mildred said...

Why would anyone have objected to saving those old plants. Such a shame to destroy them! Glad you saved some and that is a beautiful photo.

One of my cats had emerg. surgery yesterday for a tumor in the mouth. I am giving him lots of love. How is Dara?

Mevely317 said...

What an amazing tale!
I'm so annoyed that both the homeowner AND the City would so unceremoniously destroy that property. Have to admit, I was once all about ‘new’ and ‘clean lines’, but now, my heart aches for what used to be.

'Laughing out-loud at your ‘covert’ operation to save the peonies. …. you crazy kids! :)

Cheryl @ TFD said...

Wonderful story! I can't imagine why they would object to taking flowers that were going to be destroyed anyway. I would have done the same as you and taken some anyway. It's heartwarming to see that some are still living yet. If you run across those pictures, don't forget to show us!

Angela said...

What a sad and great story. I love peonies. They are the one flower that never cease to remind me of my grandma. I'm so glad you tiptoed on the darkside to save what you could.

Nancy's Notes said...

Oh my, what a story! I'm really shocked that they did not want them transplanted, awful. I'm so happy you were able to save some of the peonies! Good for you!

Back Porch Writer said...

We have a lot of peonies on our property, planted by the folks that lived here before us. They are pretty when they bloom. She took one of the plants with her when she left, and left the big hole where it was and gave one to the neighbors before the closing - so hole #2 - but that is ok as I understand she was very attached to them. They took the ones that were rare of course. I didn't say anything though b/c they would enjoy them far more than I would. And they bought and planted them. Enjoy yours. I hate they did not all survive. I've heard once they take root good then they can survive.

Funny in My Mind said...

I am picturing you guys in black stocking caps and shovels, looking like crazed graverobbers! Thanks for the big laughs!! Glad some of the plants made it! My gardens have been neglected too. Life just gets in the way!