Thursday, August 9, 2018

2018 Southern Peony Visits Wangcheng Park 王城公园

Wangcheng Park 王城公园
Luoyang, China

Peony Garden Map

Peony Fairy Statue

Of the three peony gardens I've visited so far, Wangcheng Park was definitely the most lovely. The peonies here were planted inside of huge beds surrounded by very wide walkways, all set out in a symmetrical pattern. The pattern was almost maze like, but the walkways were so large, you didn't feel like you were in a maze. The beds were all edged by a beautiful decorative low fence with pretty posts inlaid with designs, made of cement. This garden also had the same towering lady statue in it. I believe they call her the peony fairy. She was in the very center of all of the peony beds, resting in a huge central round shaped patio. She had the same flowing robes as all of the other Chinese peony fairies, like the one in 2018 Southern Peony Visits Luoyang National Peony Garden 洛阳国家牡丹园 (South). This time instead of a ringlet crown of small peony flowers, she had but one very large peony sitting atop her head, almost like she was the Peony Fairy Queen. The peony crown on her head was surrounded by beads, perhaps jade beads. She also wore a beaded jade necklace as well.

Tree Peony Garden Shade Structures

Tree Peony Garden Pathway

Garden Workers Taking Down
the Temporary Tree Peony Shade Structure

The outdoor tree peonies had also finished blooming here, and my theory about the temporary shade coverings for the tree peonies in bloom was confirmed at this park, as the staff were taking down some of the last of the tree peony shade structures at this park. The temporary shade structures at Wangcheng Park were made of round wood with a black shade cloth draped above. The staff were cutting the string ties that held the shade cloths in place, probably preparing them for storage during the summer, fall, and winter.

Tree Peony Exhibition Hall with Palm Trees

Palm Tree (Trachycarpus fortunei (Hook.) H. Wendl.)

This park also had a small exhibition hall filled with blooming tree peony plants. Growing right outside the exhibition hall were more palm trees. The palm trees were actually labeled, and were Trachycarpus fortunei or Chinese Windmill Palm, confirming to me again that their peony growing climate is actually quite warm. Inside the hall were tree peonies all in bloom (which are likely refreshed from greenhouses with peonies set up to bloom at different rates). This exhibit hall contained three air conditioned rooms. The first room was all flowers with a wall of potted tree peonies. On the edge of the wall was a structure resembling large stairs with three levels of potted tree peonies on it. There was a central display containing only 1 or 2 very beautiful tree peonies, surrounded by other potted blooming annuals.

Indoor Tree Peony Display

Huge Light Pink Chinese Tree Peony Blooms

Potted Chinese Tree Peonies

A couple things I noticed in this indoor peony display, the soil/mud in the tree peony pots, and the extra cool temperature in the rooms. I've heard and read several times that the quickest way to kill a tree peony is to overwater it (and I'm no tree peony expert yet). However it struck me as odd that they kept all of their potted tree peonies very moist. Take a look at the pictures of the soil I took. They are all very, very wet and do not appear to be in well draining soil. The soil seems to be very thick and heavy and seems to contain quite a bit of clay.

Potted Tree Peony Soil/Mud

Potted Tree Peony Soil/Mud

Potted Tree Peony Soil/Mud

The second thing I noticed was not quite as surprising, but it certainly did make sense to me. I know we like to keep our Peony Exhibition flower show rooms very cool to help preserve the cut peony blooms as long as possible, but I've never seen an indoor peony display with growing potted peonies kept so cool, 16°C or about 61°F. I guess it makes sense that the blooms will last longer even on growing plants at a cooler temperature. Chinese people love their peony blooms so much, and want to make them last as long as possible indoors (super cold air conditioning) and out (temporary shade cloth structures).

Air Conditioner in Indoor Tree Peony Display

Flora and Fauna Tree Peony Display

When I walked into the second indoor room, I was amazed and awestruck and filled with wonder all at once. The oddity and the beauty of what I was seeing both struck me at the same time. There were natural scenes with colorful blooming potted tree peonies surrounded by preserved, taxidermied animals - deer, ducks, a peacock, and many other birds. It was kind of weird, different and surprising to me, but really very interesting. There were also potted palms and ferns, Chinese garden rockery, and lacquered Chinese wood art. The juxtaposition of all of these colorful things which were somehow once natural, but now contorted by man, pleased the eye, but confused the mind - and yet I still loved it.

Red Chinese Tree Peony

Fuchsia Chinese Tree Peony

Peacock with Tree Peonies

Flora and Fauna Tree Peony Display

Pink Chinese Tree Peony Blooms

Fuchsia Chinese Tree Peony Bloom

White Chinese Tree Peony Blooms

After visiting the indoor building, we went back outside to explore. Even though the outdoor tree peonies had finished blooming here, the inside edges of many of the beds were all lined with blooming tree peony plants. These plants had all been grown in pots in greenhouses and then brought here and been temporarily planted on the edges of the beds. This way they were able to extend the tree peony season for visitors and tourists (lucky for me) and also keep blooming plants near the edges of the beds blooming at all times during their peony bloom season. This allowed visitors to always be able to get a close up view of the plants during the whole month of the of the festival.

Tree Peony Garden with Beach Umbrellas

Tree Peonies Under Palm Trees with Beach Umbrellas

Isabella with her Chinese Peony Backpack

Isabella found this peony embroidered backpack she just had to have at one of the street vendors inside the park. They also had lots of street vendors here selling all kinds of peony merchandise and a few snacks and treats too. Luckily we were able to take a small rest break and enjoy some popsicles. There was a small river running through this park as well, and when we crossed the bridge we found this lovely terraced tree peony garden growing under the shade of hardwood trees. I bet it would have been lovely to see in full bloom. I also saw a few herbaceous peonies growing under some small herbaceous trees as well. The look of the pink peony blossoms resting against the smooth wooden trunks just looked like art waiting to be photographed.

Terraced Tree Peony Garden

Herbaceous Pink Peony with Smooth Wood Trunks

Pale Pink Herbaceous Peony
Growing Beside Smooth Wood Trunk

Peony Lovers Taking Selfies with the Peonies

At this park we also found a few peony lovers taking selfies with the blooms. It's kind of silly, but in some ways I love it. It kind of shows how deeply the Chinese people and their culture are connected with peonies. To them it's not silly, it's good luck, good fortune, and of course the peony flowers are kind of gorgeous! I can't wait for it to catch on in the US, for peonies to be so popular that people must take selfies with them. Maybe we just need more young people interested in peonies in the US. ;-)

Outdoor Potted Tree Peony Display Garden

Outdoor Potted Tree Peony Display Garden

Light Pink Chinese Tree Peony in Flower

Red Chinese Tree Peony in Flower

Red Chinese Tree Peony Blossom

It was nice to have all of these potted tree peonies displayed outdoors. The planted, potted tree peonies on the edge of the beds were being shaded by bright, multi-colored beach umbrellas (and the temporary shade structures as well). It made the blooms easy for photographing or painting, which I did happen upon a peony painter at this park as well. This peony artist was painting in what seemed to be the Luoyang style of peony painting. The paint colors seemed darker, the paint seemed more blotchy. Most of the peony paintings I saw for sale in Luoyang were painted in this style, very different than the peony paintings style I saw in Suzhou, 2014 Silk Tree Peony Paintings from China, which were much more delicate, detailed, and brightly colored. This park also contained the province's largest zoo and an amusement park with a large ferris wheel and many other rides too, which made it a great park for the kids (and grandparents) too!

Luoyang Peony Painter Creating a Work of Art

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