On a brilliant summer’s day we took a drive west of the Twin Cities to Swenson Gardens in Howard Lake, Minnesota.  Their gardens were open for their annual Peony Field Days, and the timing was perfect.  With warmer temperatures and bright sunshine many of the peonies had come into full bloom.  It was a chance to wander and dream and plan for places in our own garden for more of these lovely plants.  I especially liked these America peonies –  their bright red was a wonderful contract to the green foliage and the blue sky with its puffy clouds.

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red-apples-on-a-blue-sky-day-13959_staatsYesterday was the epitome of an early fall day – cloudy and cool in the morning, but clearing skies and warm sun.  We took advantage of the day and left the Cities early, heading west to Howard Lake, Minnesota.  Our first stop was Swenson Gardens, the essential place for peonies.  We had visited there a year ago, but this time we were getting advice on dividing and planting peonies.  Keith and Becky offered they personal help and guidance and we left with plenty of information and three new peony plants for our home garden.  As the sun was breaking through the clouds, we wandered south a few miles to Carlson’s Orchard.  The bakery and restaurant were doing a bustling business, and a wait was required but certainly worth every minute.  We had a delicious lunch, followed by fresh apple pie a la mode.  The orchard was filled with apples, and the beautiful red Haralsons stood out against the blue and white sky and green of the trees and grass.  One more stop at a winery for some tasting and a glass of wine in the sun made for a full and relaxing day.

Peonies in a row Staats_9851If you travel west out of the Twin Cities on Highway 12 you quickly leave the urban life behind for farm fields and open spaces.  We did just that yesterday morning – our destination was Swenson Gardens near Howard Lake.  Celebrating Peony Days at Swenson’s was a true delight – to sight and smell alike.  With fields of peonies in bloom, and a view of the horizon all around, we enjoyed learning about all the different varieties of peonies in so many colors that I’d never seen or known about.  It was a wonderful place to explore and immerse yourself in the sights and smells of late spring.