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 peonyfarm.ca.