giving thanks

There are some days when I feel so happy and grateful that I do what I do. Today I was remembering a day like that 3 years ago. I think of it every year around this time. On the day, I awoke at 6 am and drove out to Oshawa -- I know, doesn't sound very good so far, but trust me, it gets better. The reason for the journey is that the good people at the Oshawa Valley Botanical Garden agreed to let me snip peonies for a story in STYLE AT HOME. So there I was, just after dawn on a glorious sunny June day, alone, save for the gardeners, snipping at least 5 buckets of peonies -- still not even making a dent in the garden's stunning collection.

I loaded all the buckets in my car and headed back to Toronto. I can only describe the experience of being in a small enclosed space with five buckets of peonies as aromatherapeutic bliss. Seriously, they should make a car air freshener out of pure peony essential oils -- it would eliminate road rage. As I was driving, it occured to me -- wow, this is my job! AMAZING!

When I got back to the city I delivered several buckets and a silver ice bucket vessel to Brad Currie of the now-gone-but-never-to-be-forgotten Fleur floral design. He designed the most staggeringly gorgeous giant display of peonies I have ever seen. I then took the rest of the peonies and prepared for the Peony story shoot the next day with photographer Virginia Macdonald. You can see most of the shots from that story in the Stying section of my site. The story ran in the June 2007 STYLE AT HOME. Here are a few more shots of current peony inspiration below.

And by the way, if you're free this weekend, why not visit the Oshawa Valley Botanical Garden Peony Festival. Find all the info here.

Arrangement by Brad Currie. Photo by Virginia Macdonald.

I was so nuts for peonies that year that I bought this peony print jacket from Pearl River Mart in NYC. the day after the shoot I wore it and posed for this pic -- you can get a real sense of how huge the arrangement was!

You can't get the jacket any more at Pearl River, but they do have lots of other items in the peony print -- tote bags, folding camp stools (soooo perfect for Glamping!), and fabrics by the yard for just $13!

These are the peonies today in my Toronto garden (I didn't plant them). Hmmm, I have to say I really don't love this variety. Prefer the double-flowering ones and also don't like the overpowering yellow centres. 

this pic is from Kate Spade's web site here. She is a fellow peony-loving kindred spirit. I heart Kate.

And finally....

These are the withering blooms from my latest bittersweet peony assignment. I made these arrangements for the goodbye festivities for retiring longtime STYLE AT HOME ed-in-chief Gail Habs. These look wilted but still smell divine. I have a feeling we may keep them around as long as possible because letting them go kind of means, well, that Gail really isn't working with us anymore. It's a reality we are all quietly dealing with around the office this week. It's difficult. For my part, I am remembering that it's Gail who gave me the opportunity to work at a job that hands me plum assignments like playing with peonies and calling it "work". Thanks Gail.