A peony for your thoughts


By Chris Bavender

A love for Indiana’s state flower led Noblesville resident Kelly McVey to present the state’s first Peony Festival in May at Seminary Park. Now, she’s establishing a Peony Trail at downtown Noblesville businesses for visitors to enjoy the blooms.

“My big goal now is to increase the footprint of peonies in and around Noblesville, so I have been knocking on doors of businesses asking if they want to showcase the peony,” McVey said.

McVey said the festival brought the community together and her goal is to strengthen the bond.

“It was one day where you saw families and older residents all out to see something beautiful, and there was something otherworldly about it,” she said. “After COVID, it was just what everyone needed. I think so many people love this flower, and it brings back so many memories for many.

“Everyone was excited about celebrating our state flower and having Noblesville kind of own that.”

Mill Top Banquet and Conference Center was the first to sign up to be featured on the Peony Trail.

“They needed to re-landscape and were one of the sponsors for the festival, so when they saw the popularity of the peony, they wanted to use them in their new landscaping,” McVey said. “I worked with them and helped create more of a garden (with peonies and irises). We call it Mill Top Garden.”

Peonies also will be planted at the Courthouse, Judicial Building, City Building, Pocket Park, Tom Wood Volkswagen, Nickel Plate Arts, Nexus Development, Bolden’s Dry Cleaner’s, Randall & Roberts Funeral Homes, Riverside Cemetery, Godby’s, Mustard Seed Gardens, Preservation Alliance, Jason Jackson Attorney at Law and SMC. Another 50 peony bushes will be planted in Seminary Park, and 150 bushes were planted in fall of 2019 at the site.

Businesses can still sign up to be part of the trail.

“I’d like to get it finalized as they have to get planted by the end of November,” McVey said. “They can plant them where they want, but a lot of businesses have me come out and get my opinion.”

McVey said she wants to see downtown Noblesville residents add peonies to their yards as well but has not found a good avenue to get in front of them.

A poster illustrated by a local artist and a directory will be available so the public can walk or drive the Peony Trail. The final list of sites will come out right before peony bloom time in the spring. The poster will be available for purchase at the second Peony Festival, which is set for May 21, 2022, and at locations throughout downtown Noblesville.

To learn more or order peonies, email McVey at ipfkelly@gmail.com.


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