See, years ago--five? four? six? I can't remember--sister gave me a tree peony. I have lots of regular peonies growing in my yard, and I have a greenish thumb (like the color of an old bruise...), which leads me to think that I can grow things that I've seen in books and magazines. Exotic things like blue poppies--um, they don't work so well out of their natural environment
; or even mundane things like mini roses--and every time I've bought them the buds have fallen off within a few days. I just don't have luck with plants that have a certain je ne sais quoi. Or that I covet beyond all reason or growing zone.
But several years ago I learned about tree peonies. Their tiny branches bend at right angles, giving them a sinuousness at odds with the gnarly texture of their trunks. Their blooms are giant--6 inches or so across--and the smell on some varieties can be an invisible wave that you all but ride on from several feet away. They are, in form and color, just so ... Japanese to me.
So, however many years ago, sister gave me one. They take a LONG time to bloom and can be rather spendy if blooming size, so the one she gave me was a tiny stick in a box! The first year, a few little leaves grew from the stick only to be eaten by a bunny. For the past few years, it's gotten bigger and leafier ... but no sign of a bud. Until now. It finally, finally bloomed. And I go outside to look at it about sixty-seven times a day.