It’s said that in 800 AD the Tang Empress Wu Zetian, enraged that the peonies, alone among flowers, disobeyed her command to bloom in the snow, banished them from her capital at Chang’an. Many were transplanted to Luoyang (the secondary capital) where they flourished, and have since become one of the city’s most celebrated attractions, the subject of countless poems and cultivation notes. Luoyang now boasts over 150 varieties of peony, which have found their way onto every available patch or scrap of ground – including central Wangcheng Park (王成公园, wángchéng gōngyuán; ¥55 during the April Peony Festival) – a splendid sight when they flower in spring. The peony motif is also everywhere in the city, from trellises to rubbish bins.

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