Tag Archives: Plight of the Peony

“Plight of a Peony” by Hilary Hauck

'Strawberry Swirl' peony; image by Hilary Hauck

The luscious ‘Strawberry Swirl’ peony. Photo by Hilary Hauck.

Hilary was very gracious to share one of her poems and a little write up of her memories gardening in England–with her mum! I’m sure you’ll enjoy both as much as I did. It’s so fun to get to know our readers. Thanks, Hilary!

–Sandra Knauf

Plight of a Peony

Beneath luxuriant massage of
ant paws tromping nectar,
petals in fierce embrace
play their favorite guessing game
nymph or no nymph?

Weary of mischief the layered clasp allows
translucent ruffles to escape with
ethereal scent of coveted infusion
in bow of elegant piousness
king of flowers.

Devil–may-care of fleetingness,
the peony regales with pageantry of beetles
spelunking in search of a cure,
strawberry swirl feast fit for a fly
subject of art.

Graceful to the end, tinged plumes
expose bounty woodpeckers peck eyes for,
arranging piles of concluding goodness,
plush swirls in final offering
wilted banquet for crawlers and mud.

"Feast Fly" photo by Hilary Hauck.

“Feast Fly” photo by Hilary Hauck.


I inherited my love of gardens from my Mum, if I may keep the British spelling. Some of my earliest memories are tagging along as she tended the garden (or yard, as you might call it) of an elderly lady in our village in Kent. Mostly I remember smells and textures—damp soil, windfall apples, a creosote shed, moss in unexpected places. It was better than any playground, a jungle of hiding spots amongst plants taller than I was. Every inch of earth was intentionally occupied—the best way to prevent weeds from encroaching, a philosophy Mum still swears by today. When I think of Mum, I think of gardens. The thing I miss most about home on the other side of the ocean is her garden.

A few years ago, my husband and I built a house at the end of a dirt road in the woods of Pennsylvania. Long before we were able to lay a lawn, I spent hours digging clay, amending it with manure and peat. I transplanted favorite perennials from our old house, some my Mum planted, including two peonies which astound me each year with the generosity of their blooms. And then there were the car-fulls of lily of the valley, irises, phlox, columbine, and many other plants my mother-in-law (spelled Mom) dug from her yard in Ohio, along with roses of Sharon and a trumpet vine that originated in her sister’s yard in New York. Our garden still needs a lot of shaping and taming, a process taking longer than we expected, but there’s something poignant about the way it has come into being as a sprawling happenchance. Quite fitting like a rooting of new family ties, a grafting together of family traditions.

–Hilary Hauck


Hilary’s photo by her husband, Darryl Hauck.

Hilary Hauck grew up in Kent, a county also known as the Garden of England. She spent much of her young adult life in Italy, where she taught English as a Foreign Language and studied another of her great passions, cooking. She married Darryl and moved to Pennsylvania in the early 2000s. Between them they have 3 children and 2 grandchildren. Hilary is a freelance translator of Italian, and she writes fiction and poetry.

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