Saturday, February 28, 2015

Tell Us Your Story

Ontario member Gail Hudson has suggested that we ask our members: “Where is the most interesting place that you have found a peony?”  Gail told us her own story. “Last spring I drove about 3 hours to a friend’s place and then taken to a very 'secret' location near Belleville, ON where there was an abandoned peony garden. The site was close to 2 acres in size. An older gentleman had rented the plot and tended to it for many years. But he passed away around 10 years ago. The garden was located in kind of a meadow with bush surrounding it. It was peaceful place and I wished I could have seen it when it was loved. In its heyday, the gentleman gardener had cared for all his peonies – hybridized, divided, sold them by mail order. That is all I know. My friend’s father was the property owner and did not have a clue about the treasure sitting untouched. He was actually considering plowing it under. I practically begged them to ask him to delay until a few peony lovers could visit the site. I was thrilled to find that even after a long period of time, with no attention, these peonies would once again be loved and cared for. I transplanted about 20 different plants. I don't have a clue what they will be as the identification labels had long since faded. But next spring will hopefully bring some wonderful surprises.”
Gail concluded that if this happened to her, it's possible that
other CPS members have acquired plants in a unique way as
well. So drop me a line, and tell our readers your story. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

An Error of Nature or a New Way of Propagating Peonies?

By Michel St-Pierre

In July 2008, a friend of mine came to visit as the peonies were in full bloom. He quite liked the Potanii tree peony which I had purchased two years ago - and one which I was never too fond of given the coppery yellow colour of its flowers. He, however, was quite taken by the colour and asked me if I was interested in exchanging roots in the fall. When September came around I was quite ready to prepare a root for him, shipping it off as quickly as I could.

Two weeks later, following a conversation with my friend, I received in exchange a plastic bag containing a Pink Hawaiian Coral as well as a few roots which had been cut by the shovel when it was dug up. I had seen this plant before and I had always found the colour quite beautiful. I planted the root horizontally with the ends of the roots side by side at a depth of about 15 centimetres.
In April 2009, the root began growing and produced two stems and a small flower, which I probably should have cut, but since I wanted to see it, I left it intact. Up to this point, the ends of the roots I
had received had shown no signs of life. In September, I decided to move it because it was too similar to the neighbouring Salmon Chiffon peony. When pulling up the plant I had a surprise waiting for me, each of the two roots had a small bud.

So I replanted them next to the mother plant. In April 2010, the mother plant grew and the two root ends with the eyes also had shoots. In other words, I found myself with two new Pink Hawaiian Coral peonies. Was this an error of nature or is it a new, albeit slower, means of reproducing peonies compared to separating the root with existing eyes on a flowering plant? I waited to see how the flowers turned out.

In November 2014, the young peonies which had grown from the roots flowered identically to the mother plant. There can only be one logical conclusion, if an adult peony is transplanted and some roots remain in the transplanting soil, there is a very good chance that several years later, new plants, identical to the one removed, will grow.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Calling All Peony Enthusiasts

Will Johnson
Black Press 
Castlegar is set to host the Kootenays’ first ever BC Yukon Peony Show this June, and organizers are inviting floral enthusiasts of all stripes to enter the judged competition.
“This event is the first of its kind out here,” said Holly Pender-Love, who emphasized that they’re encouraging amateurs and professionals alike to participate in the event. And even if you don’t know anything about peonies, they’d like you to bring a bucket full of your best flowers to be categorized and judged.
Pender-Love said the event will be an opportunity to meet other peony enthusiasts in the community and to educate residents about these floral delights.
“There are so many different types, and they all have names. Some people call them flowers, but we have endless names,” she said, noting that five of her favourite types of peony are called White Wings, Fern Leaf, Sword Dance, Barrington Belle and Scarlet O’Hara.
And it’s not only famous screen legends that these flowers have been named after.
There’s also one named after former governor general Adrienne Clarkson.
“I thought when I moved to my little place in Warfield I’d have room for 14 peonies but I now have 32. Peonies are low-maintenance, and really good for lazy gardeners,” said Pender-Love.
They also have incredible longevity.
“They last for 50 to 100 years, if they’re planted right and have 6 hours of sunshine a day, they’ll be there for your grandkids.”
Adriana Work, owner of Dutch Girl Peonies, said she fell in love with the flowers while she was working full-time on her farm in Beasley.
“I didn’t have time for a flower garden but there were already peonies and they bloomed every year. I found out what they were and I thought ‘this is the flower for me’,” said Work.
She eventually retired, and now she grows and sells peonies for a living. She currently has over 90 varieties. And though she’s involved in the event, you don’t have to be a professional like her to participate.
“Some people when they see peony show, they might think it’s for somebody else, somebody who knows a lot about horticulture. But it’s not. We want just your everyday gardener who loves their peony to bring it in and show it to us. We want to make it a real regional event,” she said.
Darlene Kalawsky said she’s a neophyte to peonies, though she’s been involved in the award-winning Communities in Bloom project in town and is no stranger to flowers.
“I’m on a very steep learning curve. I’m a little above you,” she said, joking at the News’ lack of floral education. “But working with people like Holly and Adriana who have such a depth of information and experience with this is such a treat.”
The judges for the event are Carol and Jim Adelman of the Canadian Peony Society.
The organizers said the pair are world-class experts on peonies.
“We’re quite honoured to have that level of expertise,” said Kalawsky.
Carol will also be giving a $20 talk titled Growing and Caring for Peonies.
There is no cost to enter a bloom. Volunteers will be on hand to help participants enter and classify their blooms.
Entries will be taken from 4 to 6 p.m. on June 26 and 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. on June 27.  The event will take place at the Castlegar Community Complex and the Sandman Hotel.
There will be no admission charge to the peony show, which will be happening in tandem with the Castlegar Garden Tour from 9 a.m to 4 p.m. on June 28.
Tickets are available at Kalawsky GM in Castlegar, Otter Books in Nelson and The Doorway in trail, BC.
For more information visit