Monday, September 20, 2010

Big Win for Farm Peonies

 It was a record year for the Central Experimental Farm Peony Collection at the 2010 National Peony Show, June 12-13, at the Oshawa Valley Botanical Gardens.  The CEF earned 7 first, 1 second, 3 third, and 9 fourth - place ribbons at the annual event that draws competitors from across Canada.  And for the first time since the Friends of the Experimental Farm have been entering the show, a CEF peony made it to the Court of Honour.  Winner in the common garden peony, single class, "Imperial Red" vied with 10 other first-in-their-class peonies for the title of Grand Champion.  Although "Imperial Red" lost out, it received a special certificate of merit for making it to the prestigious Court of Honour.  The Friends of the Farm Peony Team proudly presented the certificate to Jean-Pascal (JP) Gratton, Supervisor of the CEF Arboretum and Ornamental Gardens.

The tremendous showing by the CEF peonies is even more noteworthy when you consider the painstaking preparation process undertaken by the Friends of the Farm Peony Team.  The blooms must be picked in the late bud stage, tagged, and refrigerated until show time.  The process is repeated once or twice a week to catch the different varieties at the right point of ripening.  The buckets are stored in a cooler in Building 72, and transported to the show in picnic coolers.  At the show, there's some last-minute housekeeping - removing any unsightly leaves or stem marks and cutting the stem to a standard length - before each bloom makes it to the appropriate judging table.

Taken with permission from Friends of the Central Experimental Farm Fall 2010
Photo by R. Hinchcliff

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