Posted by: bellissimanh | June 4, 2008

Perfect Peonies

Ok. I admit it. I do NOT have a green thumb.

Anything growing in my yard can be attributed to the gardening method passed down to me from my mother: the Point and Plant Technique. I point, Joel plants. Trust me, the results are much, much nicer than if we tried to do it any other way.

By some miracle, I have a peony that has been with me since before Joel arrived on the scene to rescue my landscape.  I was admiring it the other day, and noticing that it had several “balls” (yes – that’s my very technical term for an unopened bud) on it.

“Wow,” I thought… “This is going to be beautiful this year!”

To my dismay, I soon realized that there were tiny red ants crawling all over them. How dare they? As I started brushing them off, I phoned Joel and informed him that he would have to get right after the plant with some “bug stuff” (yes – my technical term for garden pest control) to kill off these annoying ants that were chewing the leaves off my peonies (yes – they’re “MY” balls, even though all I am responsible for is enjoying them).

Joel informed me that the ants should be left alone… that they chew the leaves off the buds so the flower can open.  Apparently, he’s right. I found this at

Do not try to get rid of the ants on your peonies. This is a natural and temporary activity. It is believed that peonies produce small amounts of nectar and other ant attractants to encourage ants to help in opening the dense double flower buds found in many peonies. The ants may be found covering certain varieties and avoiding others, this is totally normal. 

Once the buds have opened the ants will disappear – also normal.

Hmmmm. Normal. Not just normal, but beneficial? Ants?

God takes something I see as a nuisance – something I might consider downright harmful – and uses it for good? Who ever heard of such a thing?

Well, James, for one.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  James 2:1-4

Reading over that peony information, a couple of things struck me. “This is a natural and temporary activity.” I couldn’t help but be reminded of Paul’s words in Romans 8:18,

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

And then the last line: “Once the buds have opened, the ants will disappear.” Once my various trials have done their work of shaping me and molding me into the woman Christ wants me to be… once they have accomplished His purpose in me… they too, will disappear.

As I thought about my future peonies, I could picture how beautiful they will be. I know from previous experience that they will be a soft pink shade, and that the flowers will be so huge that the stalk will droop with the weight of them.

Not only will they be a treasure for the eyes, but they will give off an aroma so sweet and fragrant that it causes one to just stop short and breathe deeply, drinking in the scent.

I want my life to be like that. I want it to be so filled with Christ that others stop and drink in His beauty. I want to live in a way that brings pleasure, both to Him and to those around me. I want to be able to view the various trials that come into my life (ants) as something beneficial – even necessary. Over the years the Lord has shown me that He uses all of them to tear away layers that are hiding the me He wants me to be.  He uses all kinds of different things to strip away those things that must go so that I can bloom as He wants me to.

Here is the challenge:

Will I try to brush them away, or let them be?

Will I simply want them gone, or will I surrender to God’s plan and accept that He has a purpose for each one of them?

Will I be patient to let them finish the work He has designed for them to do, knowing that in the end, something beautiful will emerge – a life surrendered, a pleasing aroma to the Lord?

I pray that I will.

How about you? How does your garden grow?




  1. I never knew this about peonies.

  2. Heather,
    God intended you to send this to me…I have this scripture pasted to my Fridge, ever since we went through all the turmoil this past winter.

    Thank you so much…and by the way Peonies are my favorite flower also??HMMMMM…been wanting to plant some here. You gave me a new perspective on this…didn’t know the reason for the ants.

    I’ve got lots of ants lately, can’t wait till they fall off, let me know if you notice before I do!!
    I Love you little sister, Thank you so much for sending me this,
    God Bless ya,

  3. Ah, and my scripture verse for the day…

    ‘The time is coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them, ‘ declares the LORD. ‘This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,’ declares the LORD. ‘I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,’ declares the LORD. ‘For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.’ Jeremiah 31:31-34 NIV

  4. Wow! I love this post and your awesome perspective! Thanks for sharing it, and thanks for comment on my blog earlier!

  5. Oops – I meant to say, thanks for YOUR comment on my blog earlier! 🙂

  6. Last night my future mother in law came over to look at our garden and give pointers. I asked about peonies and my 3 year old son overheard and asked if we wanted to see his peonie. Grandma Putnam handled it like a pro and without skipping a beat told him his mommy was asking about flowers. He was quite disappointed with that topic and walked away.

  7. What a beautiful (and painfully true) post! I enjoyed this so much. I hesitate to even elaborate with my own thoughts. It’s just…so perfectly explained. I’d like to post it on my blog as a guest post – not that my blog is “big” enough to host a “guest” or anything like that:-) – or just give the link to this particular post on your blog.

    I jus t love it when God’s creation reveals His character.

  8. very interesting! Who woulda thunk ants would be “usefull” let alone necessary!

  9. Heather, this was an awesome post. Growing up, we had tons of peonies in our backyard. And I would always see those ants all over them, and wonder why they liked those flowers so much.

    What a beautiful picture that God has shown you yet again in His wonderful creation. “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead…” Romans 1:20

    Thank you for sharing this. it really was timely and very encouraging. Love you! Glad you’re back online:)

  10. […] is so often a picture of the spiritual, don’t you? Not too long ago, I posted about my peonies (pictured below) and the lesson I felt God teaching me in finding the purpose behind the […]

  11. […] […]

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