Gardening tie to Chinese event

Tuesday, February 5 is Chinese New Year, and 2019 is the “year of the pig”. The pig is a symbol of prosperity, and the entire Chinese festival is full of special traditions, special foods, and horticultural symbols.
Red is the bright, beautiful and special color for this holiday. Once upon a time, there was a scary beast named Nian, who roamed the countryside eating villagers. One day, an old man came to the village and said he would scare away the terrifying Nian. The villagers couldn’t believe he would be able to do this amazing feat, and ran away for safety. But guess what, when they came back home, all was well. It seemed the old man used red decorations and firecrackers which frightened Nian away. So, this is the reason that red plays such an important part of the festival to this day.
Other traditions include special family dinners with traditional foods, cleaning the house to make way for good luck in the New Year, and of course, bringing flowers into the home, because flowers bring wealth.
Why don’t we make a Chinese New Year display! What should we include? Let’s first stroll through the produce aisle at the grocery store. A pineapple brings good fortune. Kumquats are the symbol for prosperity. The pretty eggplant is the plant of healing for whatever ails you. Tangerines bring luck and wealth. Pomelos are symbols of good health and family unity. Coconuts man togetherness. Peaches are the sign of immortality.
Now for a floral display. Flowers are a very important part of Chinese New year. The beautiful and long-lasting chrysanthemums are very special and important plants, with the meaning of longevity, optimism, prosperity and wealth. The lovely jade plant also means prosperity; the money plant cleans the air and brings good luck. Bamboo is the plant for strength, and even the number of stalks in the plant or vase are symbolic: two represents love, seven stands for good health. Orchids are the symbol of happiness, vitality and longevity. Pussy willows say spring. Peonies bring richness and peace. Peach blossoms are the symbol of romance, and plum blossoms bring good luck. Marigolds bring longevity, but since chances are small we will find any marigolds at this time of year, let’s be creative and improvise and include a package of marigold seeds!
If we even choose only two or three fruits and two or three flowers, we will have an exciting display to celebrate this wonderful festival, and have us looking at plants in a new way on a cold winter day!
Don’t forget, the 9th Annual Seedy Saturday is coming up on Saturday February 23, 2019, 11am to 4:30pm at SIGN on Broadway (345 Broadway Street West). There is something for everyone including local seed vendors and info booths.
And if you are going to the library to get some gardening books, stop at the front desk and ask about the Seed Library at the Yorkton Public Library. There will be a variety of seeds available for eager gardeners; it’s a wonderful free program and a great way to try new seeds!
The Yorkton and District Horticultural Society sends out birthday greetings to one of our very long-time, hard-working members, our group historian Margaret MacDonald, who is celebrating a special birthday very soon! You’re a treasure, Margaret! Happy Birthday!
Visit the Yorkton and District Horticultural Society at www.yorktonhort.ca, and have a great week! Happy Chinese New Year!

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