Saturday, May 21, 2005

Sun Yat Sen Chinese Garden

 by Alice McCauley
The mandate of the Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden is to maintain and enhance the bridge of understanding between Chinese and Western cultures; it is a "living museum" in which to exhibit and interpret Chinese culture, art and history.  The New Hall of One Hundred Rivers was built to showcase art and horticultural exhibitions, and to accommodate expanding educational and public programming needs.

May has been designated Peony Month at the Garden.  On May 2nd  a peony art exhibition will be installed throughout the halls, and on weekends there will be brush painting demonstrations by professional artists.

The Peony Festival will take place on the weekend of May 21st.  The Society will provide an "educational presence", including an information booth, peony displays, a talk on peony cultivation, and an ongoing visual presentation.  Information will be available from volunteers from the VanDusen Botanical Garden's Master Gardener's program. The Garden will provide music, poetry readings, embroidery demonstrations, tasting of flower teas, and a display of textiles.

for further information about the Sun Yat Sen Chinese Garden visit the website at

Tuesday, May 10, 2005


by Mano Capano, Pivoines Capano

Bartzella is a member of the all new select club of intersectional, or Itoh peonies, those famous peonies resulting from a cross between a herbaceous peony and a tree peony.  Bartzella is part of the intersectional peony generation created by Roger Anderson of Wisconsin.  Just  recently available on the market, these peonies are of an exceptional beauty and possess such characteristics that explain their high price.  These are the peonies of the future.

Bartzella has luminous yellow flowers.  A real yellow.  The interior of the flower is splashed with red, creating a superb contrast with the yellow.  When Bartzella is in flower, she dethrones all the others.  Imagine an enormous yellow flower, the size of a pie plate, held well above magnificent foliage on solid stems, without any support.  Imagine when there are more than thirty such flowers on the same plant.  Without a doubt, it is Bartzella who gets all the attention.  It is a top model peony.  Tall, with a natural distinction, it is a dream peony.

Bartzella produces numerous secondary flowers, though slightly smaller than the main flower, they are none the less spectacular.  These secondary flowers are what explains the long flowering period of Bartzella which can be as long as three weeks, beginning in mid-season and ending at the same time as the late blooming peonies.

Bartzella is vigorous and hardy to at least Zone 3.  After three years of growing here in Chicoutimi, the plant looks like a small shrub more than a meter in circumference and easily exceeding a meter in height.  The foliage is typically that of a tree peony, but, it is glossy when tree peony foliage is matte.  Even after flowering, the foliage remains good and solid until well into the autumn and the flowers are very fragrant with an agreeable hint of lemon.

Bartzella's characteristics led to it being awarded the title of Grand Champion during the 97th annual show of the American Peony Society in June 2002.  Bartzella is a specimen plant.  It should be used as a star in the landscape because it certainly deserves its tile of Queen of the peonies!

Monday, May 9, 2005

Peonies in the BC Interior

Taken from The Peony C to C
May 2005 Vol 8 Issue 2

By E Mitravitz

It is the first week of February here in my part of the country.  The temperatures are 50F+, the robins have returned and the grass that turned brown last fall has begun to show green.

A walk through my peony fields shows several of the early varieties have become adventurous and are pushing their red shoots through the ground.  It is a bit early, but the soil is too wet and muddy to allow me to cover them, so will take  chance on a hard frost later.

I live in the Similkameen Valley, which roughly parallels the U.S. border along Highway 3, which we call the Crows Nest Highway.  About 12 miles from here we climb a Pass and enter the Okanagan Valley at Osoyoos.

The tip of the Sonoran Desert, which begins in Mexico and extends northward to Osoyoos, ends here just outside of our area.  Some of the inhabitants - rattlesnakes, rear-fanged boa, scorpions, 26 varieties of spiders, and may more fauna reside here.  We have beautiful birds, California quail, a very mild climate, (except for a couple weeks in December and January)that all contributes to making this one of the most desirable places in Canad to live.  But, like all Edens, it has its drawbacks.  Here it is the soil and extremely hot weather in July and August.

The soil is thin and composed of volcanic ash and some clay.  If sand were to be added to this composition, then we would have cement.

We farm cherries, peaches, some pears and apples and also, 50 filbert trees.  A large garden is planted for our own use.  Each spring we amend the soil by adding well rotted cow and/ or turkey manure; bone meal; composted garden refuse and leaves; wood chips from our tree pruning are used as mulch on the flowerbeds.

To obtain the required moisture for the peony roots, we have installed a system of soaker hoses along each of the rows or around the beds and the water is turned on when needed during the night.  Because of the lack of snowfall and rain in our area, fall planting is extremely difficult.  Our land is irrigated by community water and this is turned on April 15th and shut off October 15th.  So, I have been buying from suppliers who will ship in the spring. So far it has been a success.

I have always grown a few peonies in my gardens wherever we have lived over the past 50 years, but never had the time to really investigate the many varieties.  After purchasing this retirement property, I began adding as may plants as I could afford each year and now have nearly 100 varieties.  My collection also boasts several very old varieties given to me from friends' parents' gardens and now with retirement, I will be ablt to spend more time looking for their names.

Two years ago I began contributing data to Michael Denny's Bloom Dates project.  We discovered that several of my varieties have such widely differing bloom times from the rest of the country that it will be worthwhile to log this data in minute detail to discover the reasons for the differences.

This is an exciting time for me.  Not many people get the chance to do what they want this late in life.  The more I read, the more books I find and add to my collection, the more beautiful blooms I get to see in my garden, the more eager I become to try new peony plants.  For the first time I have planted seeds after watching John Simkin's video and what a joy to see the roots a few days ago!  I had tried earlier without success and thought it was my inexperience that had caused the failures.

Happy peony gardening to you all!