A full district for peony cultivation in Heze
April is the best time for people to appreciate peony, widely acclaimed as the noblest of Chinese flowers. With a long history of cultivation, Heze, East China's Shandong province, is the country's major peony base with more than 1,200 varieties available.
A major place in the city to appreciate peony is the Caozhou Flower Garden, which is located in the Peony district of Heze and home to 120,000 peonies of more than 800 varieties over its 6-hectare growing area. Over 500 peonies there are more than 100 years old.
The most appealing, however, is the variety that is more than 400 years old and can bear more than hundreds of pink flowers every year. The peony was planted in 1610, making it the oldest such flower in China, according to the Heze tourism information center.
"I've been to Heze twice to see the peonies. I would have never know that there are so many different colors and shapes of the flower had I not visited the city," said Ding Zhiyong, a resident of Jinan city, the capital of Shandong.
Heze was called the "peony capital of China" by the China Flower Association in 2012. The city now has an area of 16,000 hectares on which peony is grown. The flowers are sold in more than 100 cities in China and some 20 countries, including France, Canada, the Netherlands and Belgium.
In addition to sightseeing, the city has extended its flower business by developing various peony-related products, which include seed oil, tea and dried flowers.
In the city's Yaoshun Peony Industrial Park, tourists can find several kinds of peony products, such as cooking oil made from its seeds, cosmetics, perfumes and essential oil made from petal extracts and traditional Chinese medicine made from the roots of the plant.
The 28th Heze peony festival, featuring many activities such as sightseeing, trade talks and flower parades, will be held on April 12.