The Great Race

It is January 31 and the celebrations of the Lunar New Year have begun! You don’t have to be an astrology aficionado to know that 2014 is considered the Year of the Horse (the 12 animals and their order in the zodiac calendar were chosen according with a widespread legend, after participating in a great race which involved crossing a river). 

More than this it is a ‘wood’ horse. In Chinese ‘wood’ (Wu Xing) sometimes translates as ‘tree’ and it is a yang character standing for springtime, east, colour green, blue…So, maybe with so many signs this is indeed the beginning of a great race – To the Springtime!

horse & tree peony

Digital collage – Leonardo da Vinci: study of horses and Paeonia suffruticosa ‘Taiyo’

The main colour associated with the celebrations is red, standing for: prosperity, happiness and good fortune. I cannot think of a better flower now than the tree peony – Paeonia suffruticosa. Native from China, where it was considered The Emperor Flower, it was later introduced and equally revered in Japan as a symbol for social status, prosperity and good luck.  Hence my digital collage for the celebration bringing together the most exquisite horse of all times (in my opinion) and one red peony – Paeonia suffruticosa ‘Taiyo’.

and everyone please read the lovely complementary legend about peonies added by garcanad in the comments area.

10 replies
  1. Amy Olmsted
    Amy Olmsted says:

    Tree Peony flowers are exquisite. Thanks for the info on the Chinese New Year story. I am trying to grow species Paeonia from seed, none have sprouted yet but the roots have emerged!

    • diversifolius
      diversifolius says:

      Love them all. They are slow to grow from seed but well worth it. Most have hypogeal germination, so some after producing a small ‘root’ they need again a cold period
      and only after that the shoot will emerge (that is in most cases in the second year). I’ll be planting a few seeds of Paeonia x rockii this year and wait (it’s hard to find to buy or if big size they cost a small fortune).

      • Amy Olmsted
        Amy Olmsted says:

        So here is a related question….I have potted the ‘seedlings’ that have send out a radical and they have been under lights for the past two weeks. Will it harm them if I put the pots outdoors now to freeze & thaw until spring. Or should the pots go into a fridge for a month or two? thanks!

        • diversifolius
          diversifolius says:

          I have been thinking to do the same, but after I had a bad experience with some Arisaemas in the fridge, I decided not too.
          I cannot say for sure, give it a try with just a few, maybe in the fridge. All I know is that they don’t like to be ‘disturbed’ so early but maybe it’s fine.

  2. garcanad
    garcanad says:

    An interesting post as usual. Since it is cold outside…..It reminds me of the interesting legend. Apparently, Empress Wu issued a proclamation in the form of a poem in winter: “I will visit the garden tomorrow where I expect to see signs of spring. All flowers are ordered to blossom tonight and nobody shall wait for the wind.” All flowers obeyed except peonies, and an order was issued to move all peonies to Luoyang as punishment. Today, Luoyang is the famous capital of peonies.
    About the ‘race’, apparently, in the same race there was an accident, the mouse collided with the cat. The cat fell into the river and didn’t make it to the conference. The mouse did. Since then….

    • diversifolius
      diversifolius says:

      Thank you very much – I love these kind of legend. I will tell everyone to read your comment/story.
      About the ‘race’ – since then the cat eats the mouse :)

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