Friday, September 14, 2001

A Half Century of Peonies

Wally Gilbert died suddenly on Jan 19th , 2000 in his retirement home near Bancroft. His wife Rene died in 1995. He was uncle of Diane Parks of Brampton and Lynda Sachs of Guelph.
Gilbert was the foremost peony grower - supplier in Ontario. He was an English tool and die maker who came to Elora after the war to work for Babcox and Wilcox. He met Bill Brown who had a peony nursery there and helped in the nursery while learning. Later he took over changing the name to Gilbert's and operated it until the mid 90's. Later he moved to the Bancroft area taking many plants with him. In a catalogue from the 1970's (he did not date his catalogues) his Headline offering was Oriental Gold for #30.00. His list included 126 Double peonies, 30 Japanese and single and 55 hybrids.
He was introduced to tree peonies by John Simkins and he put a respectable collection in his own garden. His list included all but one of the registered Brown peonies and one, Josette, from Brethour and one Ann Cousins from Cousins. A life member of the Elmira Horticultural Society, he was also a member of the Fergus and American Peony Societies. He was a excellent supplier and a great peony advocate. The Elora Peony Society are planning a Town Memorial Peony planting in his memory.

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