I 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?
This 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.
In 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.
I 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.