More choices for the bees at the Parc Floral – the tree paeony collection is just coming into flower.  A hundred varieties of this spectacular flower were donated to the park by the Japanese prefecture of Shimane in 2003.  They’ve settled in well.  Unlike rhododendrons, the nectar of paeony flowers offers no hazards to bees, though it may not be their first choice if there’s still apple blossom on offer.

Both the design and planting of the Parc Floral has been influenced by Japanese garden traditions.  The park was inaugurated in 1969, during a wave of interest in Japanese style resulting from the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.   The series of low, garden pavilions linked by covered walkways is said to have been inspired by the Imperial Villa of Katsura;  obvious Japanese influences can also be seen in the collections of Japanese maples and bamboos, as well as an impressive display of bonsai trees.

It seems that the Shimane prefecture of Japan is the world capital of paeony growing; the plants thrive in the volcanic soils of the region.  In 2012 240,000 paeony plants were exported from the prefecture to the the Netherlands, 60,000 to the USA and 20,000 to Canada.  According to the Japan Times, there is also a developing market for the plants in Vladivostok.