Friday, May 08, 2009

Peony power!

Maybe I should start a horticultural subseries of posts; certainly, the Willamette Valley and the Marquam Hill campus could provide a wealth of lovely specimens (and I could even throw in the gentian studies from the Howard Mason Papers--but more on that later).


But the first follow-up to the magnificent magnolia has to be the peony. This bush is located just outside of the main entrance to our building, the Old Library/Auditorium. Minds more trained than mine to see patterns have suggested to me that the floral motif on the main entry doors is meant to echo the peony; research on the symbolism of the architectural elements has not confirmed this hypothesis (although it is pretty to think so).

The peony's presence on campus is not merely decorative, however: the flower is an enduring symbol of healing in both Western and Eastern cultures. One tradition holds that the peony was named for the Greek god Paean, physician to the Olympian gods; the other has used peonies in medicinal preparations for centuries. Without question, our peony was planted to call these associations to mind; luckily for us, it's also a beautiful bloom with a delicate and lovely fragrance. (Have we mentioned that we love working in this building?)

The peony was also selected as the symbol of the OHSU History of Medicine Society; a golden peony was embroidered onto the banner that is displayed at each lecture. You can see it in the photo below, with Dr. Joseph McCormick at the podium.

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