by ADAM GRUENEWALD
Cologne’s influence on the peony flower community continues to grow.
While a late winter is delaying the peonies’ blooming colors in Lions Park, Roger Storms and other members of the Cologne Lions Club are setting out on efforts to brighten the town.
The Cologne Leo Club, a group of kids ages 12 to 18 that started in 2012, will have a fundraiser selling peonies from a nursery in the park.
This month, prior to the sale, they are inviting people to check out the peonies and finalize the selections on during Glad Days on July 26 and 27.
While the nursery is modest in size right now with about 25 plants, the ideal plan of the venture is not.
“What we’re trying to do right now is propagate these peonies,” said Storms. “The goal would be to have a peony in every yard in the city. So that 20 years from now, people want to drive out to Cologne and see the 500 peonies.”
The effort carries on the historic tradition of peonies in Cologne of Eugene Lins who started growing the flower as a hobby in the 1920’s. Soon it developed into the Lins Glad and Peony Farm which closed its doors in 1967.
Lins became internationally know as a hybridizer of peonies, developing 39 varieties, 27 of which are growing at Lions Park.
Since his passing, his family and the Lions members have began the massive undertaking of developing the varieties of peonies at the Lions Park, which have since grown enough to develop the separate nursery.
For Storms, the greatest benefit of the latest project is the inclusion the 28 young members of the Leo Club, who will sell the peonies and plant them under supervision.
“If we can get the young people involved then they will carry on the tradition,” he said.
While experienced gardeners can dig them up and transplant them, the nursery will provide 2-year-old plants which have a strong chance to thrive and grow for novice gardeners.
“We got a little nursery of the ones and they’re growing well,” said Storms, estimating about 40 to 50 will be available this fall.
While Glad Days is a still several weeks away, now is a good time to check out the soon-to-be blooming flowers in the Lions Park.
“It’s very unusual it’s this late and they aren’t blooming,” said Storms. “Just the season.”
To help spur the cause, this upcoming weekend, the Minnesota Peony Society, of which Storms is a member, will have their annual picnic and garden show on June 16 at Cologne as their regular annual show, originally set for June 7 in Bachman’s in Minneapolis, was cancelled. While the picnic and corresponding home tour is only open to members, the public is welcome to the show from 1 to 2 p.m.
“The general public can come up to see the peonies of all the different varieties,” said Storms.
Soon though, if all goes well, Cologne will gain more notoriety for widespread peonies from the nursery.
“We want to keep replacing them,” he said. “This fall they will go away and then we’ll put new ones in. Next year we’ll sell those. If we can get 40-50 out each year, pretty soon we’ll have a lot in the town.”
Contact Adam Gruenewald at [email protected]