Thursday June 17, 2010 | 07:59 PM

The clouds parted just in time to provide a perfect blue sky backdrop for the Peony Bloom & Ice Cream Social at Maine Audubon's Gilsland Farm nature sanctuary in Falmouth this evening. An annual affair, the party celebrates the vibrant and fragrant blooms in the peony garden. The extensive variety of flowers in this garden are descendants of the more than 400 species of peonies cultivated by the property's former owner David Moulton, whose heirs generously donated the estate to the society.

Before strolling the garden, guests made a stop inside the education center where staff members served up bowls of Beal's ice cream. Here Executive Director Ted Koffman, right, scoops alongside Christian MilNeil and Sue Cilley.

Outside on the terrace, landscaping expert Paul Tukey sold his book "Organic Lawn Care Manual" and a DVD of his documentary "A Chemical Reaction." Here he discusses the book with Rachel Smith while holding his darling daughter Angie Tukey. Paul is the founder of, an effective educator about the dangers of lawn pesticides and chemical fertilizers and a tireless advocate of the benefits to be gained from organic practices.

The results of such organic cultivation can be seen in the peony garden, which was absolutely dripping with blooms and buzzing with party-goers.

When I ran into Nan Sawyer of Portland she introduced me to her friend Lindsay Knapp, who is a master gardener. Lindsay was particularly taken with this rare peony distinguished by its single layer bloom. She specializes in heirloom peonies and lilacs, but she'd never seen this variety before.

Since we were at a nature sanctuary, flowers weren't the only natural beauties on display.

By sheer luck, I managed to snap this photo of one of the many groundhogs who call the property home. While I'm obsessed with the cuteness of groundhogs and yearn to cuddle one, property manager Bob Bittenbender assures me it would be a less than snuggly encounter.

I don't have any more photos to offer of fuzzy creatures, but if you'd like to see more snapshots of people spotted at the party, be sure to pick up a copy of the June 20 edition of the Maine Sunday Telegram.

Until then, I hope to see you out and about.

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Avery Yale Kamila dishes about southern Maine's hottest parties.

Avery can be contacted at 791-6297 or
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