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Locally Grown Peony named Canadian Peony Society Peony of the Year

The peony John’s Dream was named the Canadian Peony Society's peony of the year.  The peony ‘John’s Dream’ was grown by Joe and Hazel Cook at Blossom Hill Nursery and registered through the American Peony Society which is the International Cultivar Registration Authority for Peonies. Blossom Hill Nursery is located in Selwyn Township. To read more about John's Dream, read this write-up from Hazel Cook at Blossom Hill: 

"If you were fortunate enough to attend a presentation by John Simkins in the 1990s to early 2000s, you had an opportunity to purchase some of his small potted peony seedlings ($1 or $2 mystery plants). We purchased a tree peony seedling at a local horticultural meeting and some of our friends also bought seedlings at a show at the Royal Botanical Garden in Hamilton. As Joe and I began giving presentations, we often saw flower shows with impressive peonies, results of John’s hybridizing. Some gardeners shared roots of their plants so we could evaluate them in our growing conditions.

In June 2008, a friend invited us to see her peony seedling, now a mature plant with many blooms. Pat de Villiers’s peony was about 12 years old. She had dug it once at three years when she changed houses. It had always grown vigorously but took several years to bloom after the move. The seedling was the first yellow or single peony in her garden. She was afraid to divide a mature peony but wanted to share it with her family. Thus in autumn, we returned to dig the peony and help her divide it. We were pleased to receive two pieces of root.

Our divisions, recorded as JS08-01 grew well and we were excited to take two blooms to the American Peony Society convention in 2010. Seedlings can only be officially judged if there are three stems but it was worth the effort to experience the reaction of several top breeders/growers crowding around the blooms discussing its uniquely wonderful characteristics. One even had his fingers in the centre which is definitely against all rules. JS08-01 is actually a unique Japanese form rather than a single and it produces pollen as well as seed, thus fertile both ways. The pollen from the show blooms was shared with the breeders for hybridizing that year. Serious discussion surrounded its merit suggesting it should be included in the Court of Honor. Thus JS08-01 had started to advance the world of peonies with its first showing. In subsequent years, the best seedling entry advances to the Court of Honor although not qualifying for the ‘APS Best in Show’. At the 2016 APS convention, JS08-01 received Award of Merit and was subsequently registered. It has been offered for sale and distributed to many commercial and private gardens ever since. The registration information is available on this:’sdream "