An invitation to the peony party started with a theft of sorts.
Working at home, Ann Harvey caught a glimpse of someone outside and heard a tap at the door. By the time she opened her door, she said, “Kim [Springer] was in the garden cutting a peony.”
So Springer covered her tracks by hastily inviting Harvey to the annual peony and gem garden party at Kathy Bressler’s Jackson Hole home.
On Sunday, as the pair perused peonies in Bressler’s garden, they agreed people have a thing for these big, bold blooms.
Indeed, party-goer Brandie Orchard said, “I’m passionate about peonies, too, so I had to come see what [Bressler] is doing.”
Sunday marked Bressler’s eighth or ninth such party — she doesn’t keep count — where she sells the show-stopping flowers alongside jewelry created by her friend Lea Flocchini, a Sun Valley, Idaho, designer.
“It’s a grandma’s hobby business,” Bressler said Sunday. “I’m not really in it for the money. It’s really a way to share the beauty of nature with the community.”
Sporting a summery white dress befitting a garden party, Bressler guided visitors through her peony patch, explaining the ages of bushes and 16 varieties.
“This area was always weedy,” Bressler said, “I thought, ‘Oh I know ...’”
Once the peonies took off, she decided to share by starting Fish Creek Peonies. Customers include event planners and florists. The different varieties bloom through June and July.
Outside of the annual party, customers can visit the garden to purchase peonies by appointment only by emailing Bressler at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“You get peony fever,” she said. “They’re big and beautiful. Some are really fragrant.”
Some peonies boast jewel-like names. Bressler’s favorite is “coral charm,” while Orchard admires “raspberry charm” for its luscious red.
“Wildlife don’t touch them, so they’re perfect for this area,” Orchard said of the hardy flowers.
This year local peonies appear behind on blooming, Springer said, even the wild variety, Brown’s peony, which grows in Grand Teton National Park.
“They were 10 days later than last year,” Springer said.
Bressler’s peonies had started to open when cold weather hit, and then they seemed to stand still, waiting for warmth, she said.
Sometimes Bressler’s entrepreneurial grandchildren, Tosh Carr, 10, and Chloe Carr, 6, help her run a roadside peony stand.
“So they can make a little bit of money that way,” she said. “But I always tell them, ‘You have to pay the farmer.’”