Two of Canada's most popular flowers are featured in new stamps for 2008. On March 3, Canada Post will issue two stamps dedicated to peonies (Paeonia lactiflora). The stamps capture two Canadian hybrids in all their blooming glory: the 'Elgin' and the 'Coral 'n Gold'.
The 'Elgin' reflects the popular vision of a peony: up to a metre tall and sprouting impressively large, pink blossoms fringed with lavender. The blooms last for two to three weeks and emit a strong, rich scent. William Brown, a peony specialist in Elora, Ontario, introduced the 'Elgin' in 1952.
The 'Coral 'n Gold' hybrid was named for the appealing colour combination of its blossoms. Originally bred by Lyman Cousins in London, Ontario, the 'Coral 'n Gold' features a cup of bright petals surrounding golden stamens.
To photograph appropriate specimens, Isabelle Toussaint, a freelance designer in Montréal, travelled to Ottawa and visited greenhouses at the Central Experimental Farm and Algonquin College. In the design, Toussaint created a soft, neutral background and used close-cut and shadowing techniques to emphasize the blooms and foliage.
"I love to work in my garden, although I'm by no means an expert," says Toussaint. "The challenge was to create a stamp that mimics the impact that peonies have-when they flower, they make a bold statement."
The peony stamps continue Canada Post's informal tradition of issuing floral-themed stamps in the spring. Previous stamps have featured daffodils, lilacs and gardens. The spring issues have proven popular not only with collectors, but also with people sending out invitations to weddings and parties.
The domestic rate (52¢) stamps will be sold in booklets of ten; official first day covers and souvenir sheets will also be available.
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