By Fred Baumann
On March 1, Canada Post will issue nondenominated (85¢) domestic letter-rate “P” permanent Hydrangeas stamps with two designs in self-adhesive booklets of 10, coil rolls of 50, two-stamp souvenir sheets, and postal cards imprinted for delivery anywhere in the world.
One stamp features the handsome pink bloom of the “Endless Summer,” a bigleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) prominent in the southeastern United States.
This species has been cultivated for centuries in its native soil of eastern Asia, producing pink, blue or lavender flowers depending on the pH balance of the soil and its aluminum content.
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The second stamp pictures round, lush snowy-white flowers of “Annabelle,” a smooth hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens) native to the eastern United States.
According to Canada Post, the recent renaissance of interest in hydrangeas is due not only to the beauty and abundance of their massive blossoms, but also to the fact that the plants require little more than moderate moisture and shade in order to flourish.
The two designs alternate in both the die-cut booklet and vertical-format coil roll.
The two-stamp souvenir sheet is perforated and has moisture-activated gum.
Nondenominated ($2.50) international-rate postal cards with the Hydrangea designs will round out Canada’s 2016 Spring Flowers, an annual postal bouquet many collectors have come to cherish as philatelic harbingers of spring.
Issued early each year, Spring Flowers stamps are well-themed and well-timed for use in mailing out wedding and shower invitations.
The series began in 2002. The first Spring Flowers set of 48¢ Tulips stamps in four vibrant designs (Scott 1946-1947) was followed in 2005 by 50¢ White and Yellow Daffodils (Scott 2091-2093).
The series became a yearly two-design, multi-format fixture starting in 2007, with 52¢ White and Pale Purple Lilacs (2206-2208), followed in 2008 by 52¢ Elgin plus Coral ‘n Gold Peonies (2260-2262), and in 2009 by 54¢ Mist Maiden and Minas Maid Rhododendrons (2318-2320).
Since 2010, Canada’s Spring Flowers all have been nondenominated permanent stamps: 2010 (57¢) Decelles’ Avalanche and Picasso African Violets (2376-2378); 2011 (59¢) Sunbright and Prado Red Sunflowers (2440-2444); 2012 (61¢) Common and Louis Lorraine Daylilies (2526-2530); 2013 (63¢) Yellow Bird and Eskimo Magnolias (2621-2625); 2014 (85¢) Konrad Henkel and Maid of Honour Hybrid Tea Roses (2727-2731); and 2015 (85¢) Delta Premium Pure Light Blue and Midnight Glow Pansies (Scott 2810-2813).
In the last 10 years, the Spring Flowers have been issued between March 1 and March 13 every year, except 2014. The stamps were issued on April 23 that year.
A listing of popular topics on Canada stamps identifies more than 165 floral designs in the past 54 years, the first being a 1962 5¢ stamp (Scott 399) for the 100th anniversary of British Columbia’s capital Victoria, “the City of Gardens.” But 2016 appears to be the first time that hydrangeas have been singled out for the honor.
Adapted from artwork illustrated by Marie-Elaine Cusson and managed by Susan Gilson of Toronto’s Sputnik Design Partners Inc., the stamps were printed in six-color offset lithography by Canadian Bank Note.
The color registration marks on the souvenir sheet are shaped like honey bees. Yellowjackets (wasps) and longhorn beetles are other important pollinating insects represented on the stamps and souvenir sheet.
Printing quantities for the issue are one million booklet stamps, 90,000 coil stamps, and 120,000 souvenir sheets.
The booklet of 10 stamps is Canada Post item 414007111, the coil of 50 is item 404007117, and the souvenir sheet is item 404007145. Hydrangea coils also are available in strips of four stamps, 404007118, and 10 stamps, 404007119.
Canada Post will service 10,000 official first-day covers franked with pairs of the Hydrangea booklet stamps with a honeybee postmark from Sunny Corner, New Brunswick. Sunny Corner is a rural settlement of about 700 people on the northeast bank of the Miramichi River that appears to have been chosen for its agreeable name. The booklet stamps FDC is Canada Post item 414007131.
Stamps and FDCs will be available by mail order from the National Philatelic Centre, Canada Post Corp., 75 St. Ninian St., Antigonish, NS B2G 2R8, Canada; or by telephone from the United States and Canada at 800-565-4362, and from other countries at 902-863-6550.
Canada’s stamps and stamp products are also available from many new-issue stamp dealers, and from Canada Post’s agent in the United States: Interpost, Box 420, Hewlett, NY 11557.