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Spoken For

“Spoken For” (Chinese Garden Umbrella) Nikon D300, 105mm, F/10, 1/20s, ISO 400

New England spring weather is not kind to peonies! It seems every year just as the gorgeous blossoms burst open they are either prematurely withered by unusually high temperatures or a series of torrential downpours blow in melting them all away. Sigh.  

A few years back, after having enough of playing that game, I discovered some quaint, Chinese-inspired garden umbrellas specifically designed for peonies. Woo hoo! Now, my precious beauties are protected! 🙂  

I only have 5 umbrellas to service 20 peonies so fortunately, they do not all bloom at the same time.  

Under My Umbrella-ella-ella

“Under My Umbrella-ella-ella” (Herbaceous Peony ‘Raspberry Sundae’ w/Chinese Garden Umbrella) Nikon D300, 105mm, F/8, 1/200s, ISO 640, Color Efex Pro ‘Glamour Glow’ Filter

After taking the above shot, I wanted to achieve a different perspective so I naturally grabbed my 10.5mm fisheye and got low and close.

Mai Tai

“Mai Tai” (Herbaceous Peony ‘Raspberry Sundae’ Under Chinese Garden Umbrella) Nikon D300, 10.5mm F/2.8G Fisheye, F/13, 1/640s, ISO 400, Color Efex Pro ‘Glamour Glow’ Filter

Kinda looks like a giant cocktail umbrella, don’t it? 😉



  1. Oh it looks just amazing and the “giant cocktail umbrella” is a great description – Ok, now I feel like a vacation LOL !!!

  2. Beautiful Peonies you have. I like these images. What is the motive – the umbrella or the flowers? I know! Its the composition. Well done Tracy.

    • Thank you, Carsten! The peonies are definitely my main motive but I’ve been wanting to capture an image with the umbrellas for quite some time now. The umbrellas just look so cute scattered about the garden! 🙂

  3. What a very cool idea!

    I just love the view and the composition of shot #3.

    I am having some difficulty visualizing just how big these umbrellas are; about how tall and wide are they?

    • Thanks, Karma – I wish it were mine! 🙂

      The umbrellas stand 5 feet tall and are 39″ dia when open, so they are fairly large. I had the link wrong – went only to the main site and not to the umbrella page – I have fixed that.

      I wonder where I can get a really BIG Mai Tai glass??? 😀

  4. what a brilliant solution! Those sudden downpours have come here to in recent days, I was helping out with a fun run yesterday and got caught in the open good and proper, even my jacket couldn’t handle the torrent, I was totally soaked and sported the “drowned” look all the way home, and literally wrung out my socks after I took them off, so I can really feel your Peoney’s pain .. how excellent that you can save some of them at least from the deluge. Good thinking!

    • Thanks, Kiwi! From what I understand, the Chinese use these umbrellas to protect their tree peonies, so someone in the US cleverly copied the idea (or perhaps, maybe these are made in China?? I really don’t know).

      They look so adorable in the garden and it is cute to see the birds landing on them. They have saved many a peony! 🙂

      Oh, you poor, poor thing! I hope you treated yourself to a nice hot beverage or shower (or both!) after your deluge!

  5. The unbrellas are 5 feet tall? (if you smell smoke that’s just Kiwi’s brain visualing that in metric…LOL) that’s pretty darned big!!! Wow, I had the idea they were much smaller, that certainly explains why they can protect the flowers so well. .. pity some garden designer can’t make a garden pergola for Peonies, with a retactivble roof… open when the sun shines and closed during a downpour!

    Yes, a shower and a meal put me to rights again very nicely. Luckily the three kids races went minutes before the rain came so they were dry (120 kids in total) but 10 minutes into the adults 6kms race (about 200 runners) the heavens opened and everyone on the course got what seems like the equivalent of a swimming pool dumped over them! It wasn’t fun for the runners either. Himself said the course cut across some grass at one point and water was visable over most of the grass, so he needed a shower even more than I did! He could however run past me and to the showers, I stayed out for the last runners to go by so the course folks were all *really* wringing in the end. We raised 1457 euros for charity though, so it’s all worth getting wet for! …Just like great photos of peonies!

    • LOL! Yes, they are tall, but at times, I actually wish they were taller! (I have peonies that have grown to 4′ high!)

      You lose some height as you need to securely stick the pole into the ground so the winds don’t lift it up and send it airborne!

      WOW! What a day! But, I agree, getting soaked seemed well worth the spoils! 🙂

  6. That’s *exactly* what I was gonna say, Tracy. Except I thought you were gonna say alcoholic comments about me again. LOL Fortunately, I can’t drink anymore because of the medication I’m taking… and also because it’s winter. I need more convincing lines to drink anything cold. Not that they *have* to be cold but…

    • LOL! I was just kidding in that other post…you know that, right? 🙂

      I’m pretty much a lightweight when it comes to drinking, but even I have had my moments! You’re still young and you are doing what you should be doing at your age: having fun and letting loose! Time will come when you will have to be ‘oh-so-adult’ and you’ll be glad you’ve had these times to look back upon and smile. 🙂

      Funny you should mention beverages not having to be cold…hot chocolate and Bailey’s is a nice way to take the chill off! 🙂

      • Did someone say HOT CHOCOLATE WITH RUM? YAAAAY. LOL, of course I know you were kidding, relax. And trust me, I’m acting all young now so I won’t have to worry later. Or is it the other way around…

  7. Love these shots Tracy, those umbrellas look pretty cool too and I like the song:)

    • Thank you, Consuelo! They are pretty cool. I’m always a little but sad when I have to pack them away when peony season is done.

  8. #3 does it for me! I’m usually not a big fisheye fan, but that image turned out quite nicely.

    • Thank you, Derrick! I’m always trying to find uses for this lens so I was pleased with this myself! 🙂

  9. What a great idea.

  10. LOL… I was going to say that I couldn’t believe you have umbrellas for your flowers… but unfortunately, I can… lol.. Guess it’s a pretty good idea though if your flowers are a bit sensitive… I think I’m gonna start marketing socks for tripods… Whadya think ???… 😉

    • LOL! I was waiting for someone to come up with the ‘Of course you do, Tracy!’ I should have known it would be you, Brian! Thanks! 🙂

      I know it may sound strange but you do what you do in order to protect your investment! Some peonies, especially the Tree varieties, can be quite costly as they are grafted and can take years to bloom.

      Yeah, lemme know how the ‘tripod socks’ idea works out for ya! 😉

  11. You are indeed a strange bird, aren’t you Tracy? 😉
    Just kidding.
    Umbrellas for peonies. What’s next? Little raincoats? 🙂
    Great photos, though. I seem to learn something new every time I visit here. 🙂

    • Weeeelllll, if I wasn’t, then wouldn’t I be just a tad boring? It’s good to keep ’em guessing! 🙂

      Thanks, Dave!

  12. What a great idea, using the umbrellas to protect them, and they are so pretty, too! No doubt in my mind that your garden MUST be the envy of the neighborhood (if not the whole town!)

    • I’d be rich if it were my idea!!

      Thanks, Michaela! Actually, the neighborhood doesn’t really get to see my garden as most of it lies in the backyard which is failry secluded. I’ve actually caught people sneaking a peek over the fence!!

      • That’s funny! You should wait for them papparazzi-style and take pictures just as they peek over the fence LOL

      • LOL! That would be HILARIOUS! Better yet, I should charge them to come in and take a tour!! (Hey, gotta support my photog habit some way… 😉 )

  13. is it ok that i think it’s hilarious that you have umbrellas for your flowers? hilarious in a very friendly, not-trying-to-make-fun-of-you way?

    no offense to your lovely flowers, but i think i like the first shot the best. all those intersecting lines. what a cool umbrella.

    nice perspective on the third shot, too!

    • Yeah, it’s okay. Really. Even if you were making fun of me! I can take it. Peonies are very serious business – some are quite expensive (not my varieties mind, you, but some) and they are just so beautiful it really isn’t a big deal to me to go that extra step.

      Cool! I really like the first shot, too. Thanks! The other two are really just there to illustrate why I have Chinese umbrellas in my garden! I’m really not that much of a garden art person I do have a few things (and most were gifts) and they are scattered throughout to keep things from getting knick-knacky. 🙂

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