I call her “Rhoda”

May 25, 2007 at 6:09 pm | Posted in country living, faith, family, flowers, free knitting patterns, gardening, gifts, Holidays, knitting, love, marriage, photography, relationships, romance, yarn | 30 Comments

The Beginnings of RhodaI used to say this flower was a rhododendron. I created an oil painting of one of the blossoms and titled the painting “Rhododendron” because that is what I thought she was (I have since renamed the painting to avoid confusion.).

One morning last spring I went out to the street to bring in the newspaper and something on the right of our garage caught my eye. Large pink … no, huge pink flowers where there had been no flowers. I remember gasping, literally. I ran inside and got my camera to capture the phenomenon for proof or reference material for my paintings or something.

Last year’s blossoms were at least ten inches across when I first saw them. I could not understand how I could have missed something so magnificent. Such large, lush blossoms would certainly have been there waiting patiently to be noticed and appreciated but I only discovered them as they were beginning to fade. How could I have been so unobservant?

Fireflys Rhoda Flower Shows a BudThis year I have been determined to watch and catch their every developing stage. I wanted to witness the magic that was the gigantic “rhododendron” flowers first-hand this time.

Rhoda, as I have come to call her, has been growing right there in that spot for more than twenty five years or something. She was here when my husband’s parents bought the place more than twenty years ago. Somehow she has survived my husband’s unique landscaping philosophy (“If I can’t mow it, I don’t grow it”–everyone around here knows him for that philosophy) .

She is beautiful. I love and treasure her though I have only known her one year. Bless whoever planted her, whenever, such a long time ago. Bless my husband for not mowing her down completely curing the years he owned the place, before I came.

I know now that she is not a rhododendron, she is a tree peony. The problem is that I have referred to her as a rhododendron for an entire year, and I have called her Rhoda so often in my mind that I am having trouble replacing the word and the name with “tree peony” … not that there’s anything wrong with “tree peony”, it just isn’t in there in my mind or on my tongue.

Fireflys Rhoda Flower Shows a Bud and it Opens a BitIn my mind, I have created a new kind of hybrid plant. She is the Rhododendron Peony. She isn’t hybrid in the traditional sense of the word, she is hybrid only in my mind, in my imaginative universe and it is only her name that is hybrid.

Her name is Rhoda.

Oh, and now I know how I failed to notice her magnificent display last year until it was almost too late. She blooms so quickly and fades so fast that you really have to be watching or you might miss it. Every morning and every evening for the past few weeks I have been checking on her, watching her buds as they developed. I knew that at some point a huge blossom would peak out. I was amazed that something as large as the flowers I saw last year could possibly fit inside those blossoms.

Yesterday morning I went out to have a peak at her and oh … my … goodness. There she was, one blossom fully opened over night when there had not even been a hint of pink just the night before.

Fireflys Rhoda Flower Opens MoreI have been tracking the opening of the other blossoms with the camera, and sadly having to watch the lovely first blossom so young and vibrant and full of life only yesterday morning fade too quickly, almost before my eyes.

Thanks to my digital camera, I will always have Rhoda and her blooms to brighten any day.

The painting I did of her was in gray scale, but I plan on doing more in color. She is far to beautiful not to paint frequently.

And now my reader, I give you … Rhoda.


Fireflys Rhoda Blooms Beautifully in May

Fireflys Rhoda Blooms Beautifully in May

Fireflys Rhoda Blooms Beautifully in May

Copyright © 2007 J.L. Fleckenstein ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


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  1. Wow! It is beautiful. Thanks!!

  2. So lovely!

  3. Just stumbled across your beautiful photographs . . . what a nice way to start a long weekend! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  4. There’s no problem calling a tree peony “Rhoda” – in fact, it is much better than calling a Rhododendron, “Tree” Rhododendrons are such fussy creatures anyway; always putting on airs about what we call them. But we fixed them! We moved the Azalea into their family and called them all Rhododendron now. That fixed ’em. 🙂 Great pics btw.

  5. Rhoda – a beautiful name for a beautiful flower. Mine are in bloom at the moment and although we have had some breezes, usually once my tree peonies are open, I can count on some heavy rains and wind. As you can well imagine, tree peonies are beautiful but rather delicate when it comes to wind and rain.

    Probably you will have planted some things on the farm that someone 70 years from now will say, “This is so beautiful, I am sure glad that someone planted it here.”

  6. Rhoda is spectacular. I am sure that “she” is very proud to have such a special name as Rhoda, I will guarantee “she” is bragging to all of the other tree peonys and other plants alike, that you think she is special enough to name her.No matter what that name is.
    Rhoda is very majestic. I am so happy that you have pictures to share. Thank you. And thank your Hubby for not running her over.
    Blessings- Beth

  7. Thanks for sharing, Rhoda is just beautiful!

  8. What a stunning blossom! Thanks for sharing the wealth.

  9. Rhoda is beautiful, your capture of her is just stunning. Have a wonderful weekend.

  10. Rhoda is spectacular! Great persistance in folowing the growth and opening of such a beauty!
    Wonderful photography. All these comments are very special. Makes the doing of the blog well worthwhile.

  11. What gorgeous color! I love the one shot with the outside petals gently tinged with green; simply magnificent! I also truly appreciate your wonderful skills in photography. It’s one thing to see with the eye, and quite another to have the ability to capture beauty with a lens-you have succeeded in both areas. Thank you so much for sharing the ‘birth’ of Rhoda!

  12. My heart actually began to race as I scrolled down and viewed the pictures of “Rhoda”…I felt as if I were witnessing a birth. A pure vision of joy and beauty filled with the freshness of new life!

  13. A kindred spirit here…I call our peony “The Duchess”. I discovered a second one last year planted probably by a squirrel under the apple tree. Two years in a row this squirrel-planted flower has produced one absolutely beautiful blood-red bloom.

  14. Those pictures are gorgeous! My peonies haven’t bloomed yet, so now of course I am getting very impatient after seeing yours. hehehe

    You photos are always so pretty!

  15. Quite stunning! I have a Magnolia that is blooming and your pictures have inspired me to take some of my own!

  16. To quote Shakespeare….

    “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
    by any other name would smell as sweet”

    You could say,

    That which we call a Tree Peony by any other name would be as beautiful. 🙂

    GORGEOUS flower, by the way!

  17. Beautiful flowers – thanks for sharing them.

  18. Those Rhodas are enchanting, and your painting made me gasp. You have wonderful skill and talent as an artist, and your ability to reflect the detail and subtlety of a flower, in a seemingly inifinite scale of black and white, is stunning. I really am in awe.

  19. How beautiful! You are so very talented!

  20. Hi Firefly! Happy Memorial Day! The photos are gorgeous! I have pink peony’s blooming at my house. They remind me of my grandmother, she always had them. Thanks for sharing the beauty that we so often miss in life…God lays it right out there for us and we get so busy that it passes us by. Thanks for making us stop and take a look! Happy day today! Looking forward to talking with you soon!

  21. Rhoda is beautiful! I’ve got a few peonies here as well, despite City Boy’s lawn mowing and weed whacking attempts…sounds like our men are similar in their gardening efforts!

  22. Beautiful!

  23. Beautiful, thank you

  24. Glorious! I wonder if Tree Peonies like Tennessee?



  25. Oh….and I think you should paint that last shot.


  26. It’s beautiful – I’ve never seen one of them before. Thank you.

  27. Breathtaking!

  28. Rhoda is beautiful. I know what you mean about how hard it is to call something a different name when you have known it as another. It’s funny how easily an idea sticks in your mind and doesn’t want to be changed in so short a time.

  29. Rhoda is a wonderful name. I love peonies, my Pop-Pop taught me the appreciation of them at a very young age. He’s been gone for 26 years now but whenever I see one (which I have never been able to get to grow in Georgia btw) I think of him. Thanks for sharing your lovely flowers, not only are they gorgeous but I can even smell them from here!! Thank you for bringing back such wonderful memories for me too!!

  30. […] series begins with May flowers from my farm, the two colorways for May will be Lilacs and Rhoda — Rhoda, if you remember, is what I named the gorgeous antique giant tree peony I found […]

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