‘Peony Prince’ brings love of flower to Seat­tle

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSS NORTH AMERICA -

time be­tween Luoyang and Seat­tle, to help build a bridge be­tween the peony lovers in two cities and try to pro­mote bet­ter cul­tural com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

He vol­un­teered to give lec­tures about peony his­tory and cul­ture, show peony paint­ing skills and do­nate his paint­ings to the com­mu­nity and to ed­u­ca­tional and cul­ture ex­change events. He also trav­els to other ma­jor cities on both US coasts to pro­mote peony cul­ture.

Now Jiang is work­ing on a project to give 56 va­ri­eties of fine pe­onies to the United Na­tions as a gift in April. Ac­cord­ing to Jiang, an ex­hi­bi­tion of pe­onies will also open at the UN.

Af­ter four years of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and ef­forts, all the roots stocks from Luoyang ar­rived in Seat­tle in Novem­ber. Jiang is now tak­ing care of those plants in his back yard to make sure they will bloom in spring.

“Man­ag­ing the se­cure ship­ment it­self is one of the hard­est parts — with all the USDA per­mits and pro­cesses,” Jiang said. “But it’s worth the ef­forts we have made. These flow­ers will be a good gift — sym­bol­iz­ing friend­ship and peace.”

Luoyang has a long his­tory of plant­ing pe­onies. Peony-grow­ing be­gan to pre­vail in the re­gion in the an­cient Sui Dy­nasty more than 1,000 years ago. In the Tang Dy­nasty, many fa­mous gar­dens for pe­onies were built, and pe­onies were planted on a mas­sive scale. Luoyang be­came the coun­try’s peony cul­ti­va­tion and trade cen­ter in the Song Dy­nasty.

Luoyang pe­onies are in­ter­na­tion­ally fa­mous. Luoyang peony is well-known for its big flow­ers and many va­ri­eties. Each year, in late spring when the pe­onies are in full bloom, thou­sands of vis­i­tors swarm the city to en­joy the stun­ningly beau­ti­ful flow­ers. The in­ter­na­tional Peony Fes­ti­val held in Seat­tle an­nu­ally adds even more fame for Luoyang’s pe­onies.

Like Luoyang, Seat­tle’s unique cli­mate is par­tic­u­larly suit­able to peony-grow­ing, ac­cord­ing to Jiang.

“In Luoyang, the peony flower with a di­am­e­ter of 23-25 cen­time­ters be­comes a cour­te­san, but in the Seat­tle area, peony flow­ers can grow to be as big as a di­am­e­ter of 29 to 31 cen­time­ters,” Jiang said.

LINDA DENG / CHINA DAILY

Ge­orge Jiang, work­ing with some of the peony roots he has brought from China, hopes to share his en­thu­si­asm for a flower that in China rep­re­sents the en­tire coun­try.

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