It always seemed to me that the herbaceous peony is the very epitome of June. Larger than any rose, it has something of the cabbage rose's voluminous quality; and when it finally drops from the vase, it sheds its petticoats with a bump on the table, all in an intact heap, much as a rose will suddenly fall, making us look up from our book or conversation, to notice for one moment the death of what had still appeared to be a living beauty. - Vita Sackville-West
Paeonia 'Festiva Maxima' (pictured) was one of a several peonies that found a home in my mom's backyard thanks to a fellow intern at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Construction of the current Herb Garden began the year we were there (2008) and included clearing these herbaceous plants from the site. My colleague rescued a fair sample of white, pink, and red varieties. Every spring, when they bloom in late May, I think of George and appreciate this enduring gift.