Canadian Peony Society – Celebrating 25 Years



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.


Darlene Kalawsky 2018-2022

Darlene Kalawsky   Canadian Peony Society Past President 2018
They say that taking on a challenge stimulates growth in a way that good times don’t. Facing challenges and navigating one’s way through them builds resilient capacity. You will gain motivation and confidence. You will find opportunities and new goals to chase, maybe do something extraordinary. Challenges seem to be an excellent tool for keeping you focused on the things that really matter and so it began......

I became President in June of 2018. The board was meeting by teleconference calls, as zoom was not yet a thing. I had only met four of our board members in person, at that time. I had served as the BC Yukon director for two years, but was not really clued into the functioning of the society. It seemed that we needed to get focused on the who, why and what we were supposed to do. We did an evaluation. Some might call this an “infrastructure audit.”

With the help of the board of directors, we started revisiting the constitution, bylaws and policies, this led us to creating a strategic plan. Not exactly every one’s cup of tea but positioning for future society stability, was important. I called on many past chairs and individuals to try to get a sense of what had transpired before my time. I was touched by their generosity of sharing countless communications and their willingness to share. I read past newsletters. Much of what I was doing has been done in the past by former presidents, but it was my way of connecting the past to the future.

Proudly, our CPS team was getting on with business. We began using Zoom. This added a whole new dimension to our communications. We could see each other!

Then in late December 2019, COVID changed the world. People were forced into seclusion for long periods of time, searching for some stressless opportunity to enjoy their own surroundings. People returned to gardening. What to do now? No gatherings, no regional peony events, or national show. Not to be stymied by this, we organized the FIRST virtual peony show in North America. Our webmaster and three dedicated board members ushered this along. It was a huge success! More now than ever, we realized we needed to keep in touch with membership. More brainstorming. We added a new educational platform via zoom for our membership, submitted articles to the APS newsletter, and had continued round table zoom meetings on a variety of topics. It was determined that we needed to up our game in communications. We were joined by younger technology minded board members! Thankful again, for the dedicated group of volunteers who took to this task with renewed energy. The CPS newsletter was reborn, our website revision began, our membership portal changed, mail chimp introduced, and an expanded social media presence was generated. Whew! Amazing is the word.


Recognition of members and supporters of CPS

How should we recognize those who have contributed or will contribute to our society? In 2019 the beginnings of an Awards program were established. That year, CPS awarded the first Lifetime Achievement award to Bill Wegman. 2023 – more to come.

How is CPS recognizing registered bred Canadian Peonies?


Canadian Peony of the Year

Reintroduced in 2018, awarding Canadian registered peonies a platform of recognition for the breeder, growers and vendors in Canada. Work continues.



Two inherent benefits of being a member of CPS are the annual seed & root sales which are organized by volunteers and created by the generosity of donors. Such a valuable resource for our society to expand on providing unusual and rare opportunities to educate those with interest in dabbling in growing peonies from seed or those looking for that special peony root. Thanks to these amazing volunteers, demand is strong.!


CPS Celebrates 25 Years in 2023

This milestone has provided an incredible opportunity to delve deeper into the past 25 years of history of our society and also to embrace the exciting future for CPS. Our committee’s mission is to continue to bring new posts through our communications portal for members to enjoy on a variety of topics and finish the year with a huge virtual celebration. By doing so we hope members will engage in our society more fully and enjoy the many aspects of being a member. I am proud to report that CPS has created a 25th anniversary Project Garden in Stratford Ontario, as a tribute to Canadian hybridized peonies. This garden began with a partnership with a local historical society and the City of Stratford Ontario. It is in the Shakespearean Garden area. A multi-year project, this will be a testament to our society sharing its mission with visitors to this city.

Another 25th Anniversary highlight will be the Peony Festival in Oshawa June 9-11th the first National show in 4 years. It will be an exciting weekend. Regional shows are happening in Quebec and British Columbia, along with many gardening groups across Canada celebrating the occasion in their communities. Congratulations everyone!


Our Rewards

What has happened during my time as President, is a tribute to many who joined in, to take on many responsibilities and challenges, giving countless hours of volunteer time, and effort, for me to tell these SUCCESS stories. It was an immeasurable learning experience for me, and has opened many opportunities - meeting new friends, learning a super lot about peonies, technology and values.

Without you, and you know who you are, these milestones would not have happened. Volunteers are so very important, and more so now since COVID. Time is a valued commodity. We must give recognition to those who give so graciously of their time to make this society stronger and resilient to changes that will be sure to come along in the future.

Congratulations CPS on Celebrating 25 years – Let’s all Celebrate!

All the best,
Darlene Kalawsky

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!

Support The Society

Support the Canadian Peony Society. Click the "Donate" button below. Enter the amount you wish to donate in Canadian dollars. You have the option of paying using any major credit card or by Paypal.

Contact Info

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