Reiner Jakubowski

Reiner Jakubowski receiving certificate

Reiner Jakubowski receiving certificate

Congratulations to Reiner Jakubowski, the winner of the Canadian Peony Society’s 25th Anniversary Distinguished Service Award. This award recognizes Reiner as a person who has made an outstanding contribution to the peony world in many different roles. Reiner served in many capacities on the CPS board, serving as president as early as 2000, and later as secretary and membership coordinator. He has put in countless hours on behalf of the Society. In 2000 Reiner registered the beautiful “Castlegar” Itoh peony. Reiner has also been very active with the American Peony Society and he served as the peony cultivar Registrar for ICRA for 18 years. During that time he instituted a more detailed registration format and processed approximately 800 new peonies. Thank you, Reiner, for your contribution to the growth and development of all things Peony!

Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient

Brian Porter

Brian Porter
Brian Porter
Congratulations to this year’s winner of the Canadian Peony Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Brian is a professional horticulturist, co-founder of the Regina Peony Society which shortly became the Prairie Peony Society, and past president of both the Prairie and Canadian Peony Societies. He has been instrumental in the staging of more than two decades of peony shows held in Regina, including three national shows. His involvement with peonies goes back many years. Brian became the unofficial curator of the Agriculture Canada peony gardens at Indian Head and helped to relocate the peonies in 1994. He has organized distribution of peonies to various existing public peony gardens in Canada and “saved” many peonies when peony gardens were slated for removal. Brian has shared his knowledge and love of peonies through his many peony articles, editing of the Prairie Peony Society newsletter, and webinar presentations on heritage peonies. Thank you, Brian, for your amazing contributions to the peony world.


Mary Pratte 2004-2006

Mary Pratte
I imagine we are all familiar with the old bromide about dogs and their owners, and I wonder if it can also be said that plants and their experts eventually grow to resemble each other? After meeting Mary Pratte, peony expert, I’m prepared to make the case. Whoever has seen the peony – a quintessential sign of summer’s arrival in our town – gracing gardens with its sunny, bright, open flower faces, will recognize Mary.

There is also the question of determination and perseverance. Peonies don’t give up easily and neither does Mary. She has used these qualities to transform numerous peony collections, including the wonderful collection at the Central Experimental Farm.

Mary first drew breath in 1955 in Cincinnati, Ohio, and because her parents were Canadian was able to claim dual citizenship. Her father’s job with Procter and Gamble took the family to the Philippines, Switzerland and England, but despite living throughout the world, the family retained strong ties with Canada – particularly Southwestern Ontario – where they vacationed annually at a cottage on Lake Huron.

Interest and immersion in horticulture...and peonies

Mary’s schooling took her eventually to the University of Western Ontario. She subsequently became an elementary school teacher, married and had a son, now 25. And, as far as the Friends of the Farm and peony fanciers are concerned, that might have been the end of the story but for two things.

First, the years in England as a child set the seeds for Mary’s passion for peonies. To this day, she retains vivid memories of the peonies in the gardens where she played and of the beauty and scent of the cut flowers her mother brought into the house.

Second, after teaching for 10 years, and now living in Ottawa, Mary’s love of plants was blossoming. In the early 1990s, she followed her heart and took a two year sabbatical to attend the horticultural program at Algonquin College, obtaining a certificate in horticulture. Her interest and immersion in horticulture took her to garden clubs that often sponsored lectures on various topics. One in particular caught Mary’s fancy and prompted a modest outlay of $5 to become a member of the Canadian Peony Society.

Unlike the peony she resembles in other respects, Mary has a humble side and downplays the attributes that took her from ordinary Society member to vice-president to president. However, given Mary’s significant achievements in the peony world, I think we must admire her humility while acknowledging not only her expertise and contributions but also her enthusiasm and leadership ability.

Transforming the Farm’s peony collection

The Society is one aspect of Mary’s connection to peonies, her involvement with the Friends of the Far is another. She became a friend of the Farm in the early ‘90s but, oddly enough, did not first visit the Ornamental Gardens until about 1999. At that time, the Farm’s peony collection, which had flourished and faded several times over the years since its inception in the 1890s, was looking decidedly pathetic. Mary was roused to action and, with the help of George Vorauer and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), undertook the daunting and ongoing task of revitalizing the collection and bringing it up to a standard befitting its location in a national historic place. She continues to be the Friends’ peony advisor.

In addition to advising on the Farm’s peony collection, Mary has taken her expertise farther afield, from her own personal collection, which now numbers nearly 150 plants, to helping to restore the collection at Les Jardins de Métis/The Reford Gardens in the Gaspé, to organizing two of the Canadian Peony Society’s annual shows at Rideau Hall.

When not directly involved with peonies and other horticultural research, Mary is an avid traveller and often combines travel and horticulture to visit other gardens of interest.

The ‘Mary Pratte’ Peony

Perhaps the best way for a plant expert to resemble his or her favourite plant is to share a name and, yes, there is a ‘Mary Pratte’ peony, a loving tribute from her family.

Taken with permission from Friends of the Central Experimental Farm Spring 2010. Written by Eileen Reardon, Thursday, April 29, 2010.

Peony Pioneer of the Month

Marvin Balfour

Congratulations to CPS for its 25th anniversary! I have been a member since 2000 and had participated as a member of the Board of Directors from 2003 to 2015 as Treasurer. My first peonies were acquired at a bargain sale at Simpsons-Sears in early December of 1989. For $10 I had gotten 32 peony roots (5 varieties) plus an assortment of summer bulbs and bulbs for
forcing. I became aware of the establishment of CPS in 1998 and within 2 years I had become a member.

In 2003, because I had had experience as treasurer of a number of other gardening organizations, I volunteered to replace the CPS’ initial treasurer. Little that I know that I would be in this position until 2015. Being treasurer is a pivotal position on any board as it involves not only to maintaining the financial books but also becoming an active participant in the governing of the organization. Communications was a major problem as members of the board were scattered over the breadth of the country. Emails were initially used for board meetings which was challenging, then conference calls, and now I understand Zoom meetings do occur.

As Treasurer I did make changes over the years going from the financial journal to Quicken cash, to itemize expenditures and deposits more completely, providing updates of finances during the year when appropriate, establishing a yearly budget, arranging for the examination the financial books at the end of each fiscal year by an auditor/account reviewer.

I also enjoyed meeting various members at the different locales of the yearly AGMs that included venues at Hamilton, Montreal, Rosemere, Regina, Oshawa, Ottawa (not Rideau Hall). Being an Oshawa resident, I was able to assist Judi Denny with Oshawa Peony Festival and was able meet a number of local members over the year.

I can’t say that I have any favourite peonies; I do have approximately 120 peonies that include a wide range of types including some seedlings started 15 years ago.

My involvement with the Board of Directors included development of an updated Constitution and its Bylaws in both English and French and the support of the development of a strategic plan that will ultimately become a policy booklet as a living document for members of the Board of Directors. In conclusion, I got a great deal of pleasure in being able to view such a wide variety of peonies at the various shows and gardens highlighting peonies. And I was pleased to meet so many members who were so enthusiastic and knowledgeable about peonies.


Dutch Girl Peonies

5254 Queen Victoria Road Beasley, BC V0G 2G2
Tel. 250 359-7142

Dutch Girl Peonies

Dutch Girl Peonies
click image to view larger

My husband and I have lived on a 300-acre farm above the Kootenay River for over 46 years. During this 46-year period we have milked cows, made cheese, sold milk, raised chickens, cows, and pigs. Our dream was to be full time farmers, but this didn’t pan out and we ended up settling for part-time farming and careers while raising our three children.

Coming from Dutch heritage I have always had a deep-seated love of flowers. As a busy mother I never had much time for flower gardening but one thing I noticed was that the peonies always bloomed no matter how much I neglected them! The blooms were beautiful and fragrant! I was sold on peonies!

In the fall of 2005 I decided to start my peony business and get back to what I enjoy most...being outside and close to the earth. I started by dividing and propagating from my own peonies on the farm. We have now expanded to include over 70+ varieties of peonies.

We are small and want to stay small so we can grow our peonies without the use of herbicides, fungicides, and pesticides.

In recent years we have received recognition for the quality of our blooms by winning awards at peony festivals.


Join a community of passionate fellow peony growers.

With your membership fee, you receive member admission to the Annual General Meeting and other society events. Get member access to the annual Seed and Root Sales and CPS Email Bulletins and Newsletters with CPS event and peony information as well as archived Newsletters.


Canadian Peony Society Membership Form

Who We Are

We are a Society dedicated to the growth and development of Peonies. We are always looking for new members and enthusiasts to join the Society, so join us and come and share your passion!

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Contact Info

Canadian Peony Society
4338 Line 26
St. Pauls, ON N0K 1V0