You could be forgiven, if you spend any amount of time at all reading blogs, for sometimes feeling the need to express the odd bout of what I like to call “peony fatigue.” Peonies are undoubtedly favourites of bloggers at every corner of the Internet, and these lovely flowers can show up in almost every conceivable iteration. This is especially so at the moment, as the northern hemisphere slides happily into early summer (that's peony season, folks). Blogger + peony = somewhat of a cliché, it is true. But if that is the case then I guess I’m a cliché*, too, because I adore peonies. Links (peonies on Etsy): 1-photographic print 2-letterpress stationery 3-terrarium necklace 4-granny squares 5-oriental print 6-cupcake toppers 7-white peony root 8-bubble bath

I love how gloriously big and fulsome and womanly peonies are. They are delicate but not demure. Feminine but not frail. They are the Rubenesque ladies of the floral world. I love the heady fragrance they carry. And I love that when peonies are pink, they are wholly and unashamedly pink.

Last week I spent 11 hours on a hospital bed, toiling in a labour of love to bring my beautiful daughter Madeleine into the world. Around mid-morning a nurse came in, her head and torso hidden beneath a floral bouquet, overflowing with roses and lilies and an abundance of buds and half-opened peonies. They had been sent by Mr B’s team at work, assuming our baby was already born. The nurse put them on a table directly in front of me, and I focused on those flowers as each new contraction tightened.

Later that night, after I was wheeled into the ward and lay in a fresh bed with my child in my arms, overcome with exhaustion and love and wonder and shock and pain and awe, they carried the flowers into my room, too.

At 4am when I woke to feed my child, I could smell the blooms.

And at 7am when they brought in my breakfast and opened the curtains to the cold Melbourne morning as my little girl curled warm and drowsily on my chest, I saw the peonies had opened. Another birth. They were magnificent.

Mr B came in not long after and bent to sniff them. “What did you say these are called again?”

“Peonies,” I told him.

“What? Penises?!?”

“Peonies!” Yeesh.

Once the name had been clarified, we agreed that they were beautiful beyond any flower. “For the rest of her life, peonies will be Madeleine’s flower,” we said.

Madeleine and I left the hospital to come home on a windy morning four days later. The last of the yellow oak leaves whirled in gusts along the tramlines and pathways, and winter clouds scuttled across the sky in an ever-moving patchwork of sunshine and shade. I sat in the back seat with Madeleine, but I could see Mr B’s face in the rear-vision mirror. His smile was as wide as mine.

The front gate creaked as we opened it onto the herb garden that fronted our little house, and Mr B reached into the letterbox to check it as we passed through. Inside was a postcard from my new friend Kate, who I had met at a blogging conference a couple of months back, welcoming Madeleine into our family. Kate is sending out 100 postcards in 100 different Pantone colours. Guess which colour she happened to pick to send to us? *I read once that a cliché only becomes a cliché because it is the best way of expressing something. There could be something in that, don’t you think?

And one more thing: THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for your sweet comments and wishes on this post. I feel truly blessed to have so many friends met and unmet, near and far.