Peony “Coral Charm” stands out with its glowing coral hue against a backdrop of other peonies and lupine at the rural Lamont home of Mary and Brian Grimm. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Typically, the lush blossoms of peonies grace gardens throughout Iowa around Memorial Day.

Peonies are known for their longevity, with some living for a century or more, and passed down through generations. The showy flowers are synonymous with Memorial Day.

Doug Koch sits on a low retaining wall he and his wife built alongside a deck at their Cedar Rapids home.
(photo/Cindy Hadish)

Everything seems to be lagging this year, with many peonies still in bud stage. The same holds true for a lovely spot in Cedar Rapids who lost its gardener last summer.

Doug Koch died in July 2018. His garden was profiled in the Iowa Gardener magazine just a few months earlier. See photos from the garden.

In addition to being a wonderful gardener, Doug was an amazing woodworker and simply a kind person towards other people, as well as wildlife.

He encouraged me to visit the lovely peony gardens of his sister and brother-in-law, Mary and Brian Grimm in rural Lamont, in northeastern Iowa.

I had the chance to do that last year, when many of the peonies were at their peak. The Grimms are just as open and welcoming as Doug had been.

This Memorial Day offers a chance to look back on that visit and remember the kind soul who is missed in this corner of the world.

Hundreds of peonies grow next to a farm field at the Grimm’s acreage in rural Lamont. (photo/Cindy Hadish)