Centenarians make grand old peonies
Updated: 2013-04-28 05:48
By Wu Ni in Shanghai(China Daily)
The newly opened peony garden in Shanghai is beckoning flower fanciers to visit the noblest of Chinese flowers.
Xinbang Peony Garden, a peony cultivating base, is hosting a festival through May 8.
As the biggest peony nursery of the city at about 15 hectares, the garden has more than 160 species and varieties in all sizes, shapes and colors. Some species are really rare, like black, green and purple peonies.
The most appealing, however, are 16 peonies that are more than 100 years old.
"It is a good chance to view so many precious peonies in one garden, considering that today China has no more than 200 peonies that have lived for more than 100 years," says Tao Hu, general manager of Shanghai Qipa Peony Planting Company, which has constructed the garden.
Tao says the company has spent nearly 10 million yuan ($1.62 million) to introduce the over-100-year-old peony queens to the garden.
Veteran peony growers from Heze of Shandong province, which has hundreds of years of history of cultivating peonies, were hired to attend the flowers.
The oldest peony, Zhao's Pink, has grown for about 170 years. It charms visitors with its tender color, thick layers of petals and light fragrance.
Zhao's Pink is one of the four famous varieties of Chinese peonies, together with Yao's Yellow, Wei's Purple and Dou's Green. It was first cultivated in a renowned peony display in Zhao Family's Garden at Heze in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).
The peony flower can be as large as 15 cm in diameter and is esteemed as the "queen of all flowers". It is a symbol for nobility and richness in China, fancied by many ancient emperors.
(China Daily 04/28/2013 page15)