Luoyang，a peony city
Like rivers, mountains and rocks, flowers were often awarded symbolic connotations by the ancient Chinese,a parabolic meaning correlating to a historic or mythical event (or a melange of the two). For Luoyang it’s the peony woody shrub that produces colourful, fragrant flowers--that gets the imperial treatment.
So the story goes, Empress Wu loved flowers and ordered several varieties planted in her garden in Chang'an. On a snowy winter morning not long after ascending the throne, she issued a proclamation: “I will visit the garden tomorrow where I expect to see signs of spring. All flowers are ordered to blossom tonight and nobody shall wait for the wind.”Many flowers obeyed her command by blooming the next day when she entered the garden. Only the proud peony refused to blossom. The empress was furious and ordered all peonies to be “imprisoned” in Luoyang. The disobedient peonies would be punished with the City’s harsh weather. But peonies flourished there and became even more beautiful.
That s the legend but in the historical records we find an alternative telling of this tale. Apparently, when the Empress found herself confronting criticism as the first female ruler, she resolved to persuade all officials to believe she was destined to sit on the throne. To demonstrate her potency she ordered all Gardeners to force flowers to blossom in winter by using greenhouses .But the penoy failed to bloom in the harsh winter weather.The Empress decided to move all peonies to Luoyang where they bloomed bigger, brighter and more vivid than anywhere else in the empire. So Wu moved her court there and assumed the auspicious role as Queen of the Flower Court.
Where myth ends and truth begins is unclear but either way Luoyang is now famous for peonies where more than 1,000 varieties bloom today, including several rare varieties. Flower appreciation has been a spring ritual since the Tang and many literati have waxed lyrical about fair ladies and peonies of subsequent centuries.
More recently Luoyang has been awarded the“City of Peonies”epithet and hosts an annual flower festival from April through May. Centred on the Luoyang National Peony Garden, the oldest of its kind, it ' s a spectacle that draws the tourists in their thousands. The Shenzhou Peony Garden opposite White Horse Temple, Xiyuan Park and Luoyang National Flower Park also host colourful displays.