Peonies on Kinfolk

by xochitladriana

Good morning, everyone. Hope your Fridays are all off to a good start!

I’m so excited to share with you guys one of my stories that came out on the Kinfolk website last week – Tips for Growing Peonies. During my time at Kinfolk, I got to generate content for the site, sending out ideas for photographers and stylists to bring to life, but this particular story was really important to me because I got to work it from start to finish.

The idea of doing something with peonies was with me as soon as I realized I could submit ideas for stories; they’re beautiful, grow all over the place here in Oregon and they happen to be my favorite flower, so I got to brainstorming about what the story might look like. When I started researching more on the flower, I came across the Adelman Peony Gardens and their 15 acres of peonies, with over 350 varieties of the flower. Immediately, I knew I wanted to do something with them and that I wanted my talented friend, Jay, to come along as the photographer. Thankfully, the people at the farm were open to us coming and hanging out at the farm and Jay was free to come shoot, so our story started becoming real. The story took a few different turns before it became the finished product – it started out as a photo essay, then an interview, to finally tips on how to grow the best peonies with tips from the farm owner, Carol.

Once we knew what we needed, we were off to the farm. I have to say that even though I was excited to be working on this with two of my really good friends, Jay photographing and our friend Emily as the model, I was also pretty nervous. This was the first time I was taking on an assignment and doing it on my own, not having someone else with me to make sure the shots were what they wanted, that the styling was right on, that the lighting and models and props and all that goes into a shoot was the way it needed to be. But as soon as we got to the farm, met up with the owner and started talking to her, the anxiety started melting away. First of all, I was on a peony farm. With 350 different varieties of my favorite flower. 15 acres of beauty. I was like a little kid in a candy store. Second of all, Carol, the owner of the farm, was welcoming, accommodating, and so kind, quickly making me feel relaxed and at ease. This being my first time interviewing someone, I was a bit worried about making sure I had enough questions, the right questions, but as we started talking, it just felt like any other conversation with someone who shared the same passion for this gorgeous flower as I did and I could learn a lot from. 

We did a little interview in the garden outside their home, then we hopped on a golf cart and were taken through the fields. I wish I could put into words just how happy I felt over the next couple of hours – I was getting to do something I loved with people I loved in a place that felt like heaven on earth. Every few feet, we would stop and be shown a new variety of flower, and with every flower we came across I had a new favorite kind of peony, but after a few stops, it became impossible to choose a favorite. The shoot became pretty natural, with Jay going through many rolls of film, Emily being the perfect person to have in the fields of flowers and Carol teaching us the history and tips about the flowers.

I learned a lot more than I knew was possible to know about this flower, but I also learned a little bit about myself and my abilities to take on projects and make them happen. Though I had a list of shots I wanted, some of them weren’t going to look quite as I had planned, and I realized that sometimes you’ve gotta be flexible and change things up a little. I learned to just trust my instincts and felt honored that Kinfolk trusted me enough to let me do this on my own and that they would be happy with what we got. I loved getting to see the other people there doing what they loved – Jay taking phenomenal pictures and Carol clearly reflecting her love for these flowers in the way she spoke about them. After a few hours in the fields, it was time to wrap up and head home. We got sent home with buckets and baskets full of peonies; enough for me to keep for myself, take to many different friends’ homes and for all the people back at the Kinfolk offices to take home themselves. 

The peony story, small and short as it may be, is so very special to me. Seeing something start out as an idea in your head come to life and become a story is such an incredible experience and I am so thankful that I got to make this happen. I am thankful to Jay for his hard work, putting up with some unforeseen circumstances and being a good sport; to Emily for being a trooper and coming along with us; to Carol and the rest of the folks at the Adelman Gardens for their generosity, hospitality, and the beauty they are bringing with their farm; and most of all, I am thankful to Kinfolk for letting me do this, for trusting me enough to give me this assignment and let me run with it.

If you are interested in learning more about peonies or are looking to buy some for your gardens, I highly recommend checking out Adelman Peony Gardens. Also, it’s a great place to go to just to take in the beauty of these amazing flowers! 

Now, here are some shots that didn’t make it into the story but that I wanted to share with you guys. All photos by James Fitzgerald III.

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Ok, this last picture is from my iPhone, so not the best quality, but sadly, it was the only shot we got. This, my friends, is the Cream Puff peony. Have you ever seen anything like it? It took my breath away and wish I could somehow have one of these with me at all times!

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