“In the garden of life, love is the peony that stands tall and proud, its vibrant colors and sweet fragrance filling the air with joy.” – Anonymous
Friends, once again it is peony season and while June has been a difficult month, I was in for a surprise when I discovered that Gilsland Farms, which is part of the Maine Audubon, is just twelve minutes away from the rehab hospital my Dad is at. Beach trips, and travel have been put on hold as I help and support him and subsequently my Mom, through my Dad’s major surgery and recovery, so alas excursions have been limited.
So it was nice to discover that this was so close by, and that I could sneak away to catch some blooms and smell the sweet delicious flowers that are my absolute fav even if it is only for an hour, In fact, I was lucky enough to sneak away several times and see the progression, from just a few peonies blooming, to the full vibrant garden that is filled with hundreds of peonies.
I visited Gilsland’s last year for the first time and fell in love with this nature preserve. (you can read all about last year’s visit, as well as more background information here.) It truly is an oasis located just miles away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Portland. As part of the Maine Audubon, they pride themselves on conservation and the incredible thing about these flowers I particular, is that they were planted over a hundred years ago, and they are still blooming today. With so many different types, every time I went I would see different peonies blossoming, from the traditional, pale pink, and white, to yellow, to even a glorious red color. I even saw peonies that were deep fuchsia with a yellow center. They were absolutely stunning!
I also got to explore Gilsland farm more extensively. With over sixty acres dedicated to trails, a community garden that was filled with lupine as well as vegetables, meadows, and even an educational center, it was the perfect place to get “Lost” for an hour to find some peace in the chaotic-ness that had become my life. I was also able to get in a bit of exercise, which was needed after sitting in a hospital for over a month.
And of course as I explored, I couldn’t help but take pictures. I also received several surprises. I thought I had missed Lilac season, but on my first visit to Gilsland, I was inundated with the gorgeous smell from a Lilac bush that was STILL in bloom. I also was in love with all the wild purple flax that acted like a natural fence along the property. I also saw a TON of turkey’s that sautéed along like they owned the place. Which they kind of did.
Gilslands is truly a natural oasis, that showcases the beauty of Maine. It has become something of a tradition to visit here, and while I haven’t been able to get here any other time of year, peony season is truly its crowning glory. Especially because it is so much later here then anywhere else. It brings instant joy, and is the perfect mood lifter. While we are nearing the end of their peak, they are still in bloom and you can visit the farm year rounds.
Have you been to Gilsland? Do you have peony gardens near where you are?