By Jesse Robitaille
Foreshadowing spring’s imminent arrival, Canada Post released its annual “Flowers” issue on March 1, about three weeks before the seasonal equinox.
Part of a long-running annual series, this year’s issue depicts callas – commonly yet mistakenly called “calla lilies” – on a se-tenant pair of stamps, which are available in booklets, coils, two varieties of souvenir sheets and on an official first-day cover (OFDC).
“The calla (Zantedeschia) – native to the southern parts of Africa – isn’t a lily at all. It’s a member of the unusual arum family (Araceae), which includes peace lily, skunk cabbage and jack-in-the-pulpit,” according to a statement from Canada Post. “The cut flower’s beauty and longevity may account for its ubiquity in floral arrangements but, like many plants now cherished for their aesthetic value, the calla has traditionally been used for medicinal purposes.”
The trumpet-shaped flowers, which often adorn weddings and other special occasions, are shown on the newly issued stamps in white and pink. One stamp features two white callas standing in front of a pink background while the other stamp shows a single pink calla with a burgundy background.
The calla owes its name to “kallos,” the ancient Greek word for beauty, according to Toronto Master Gardeners (TMG), a group of more than 130 trained horticulturists that belongs to an international non-profit community service network. The flowers can carry different meanings depending on their colour, with the white ones symbolizing purity and innocence and the pink ones denoting appreciation and romance.
“In the Victorian language of flowers, the calla has much to say, each message determined by its colour,” added the Canada Post statement.
Native to South Africa’s tropical marshes, callas require warm temperatures and adequate water but can be grown in Canada, according to the TMG, which called the flower “high maintenance.”
“To thrive and flower, they need particular care,” including the appropriate temperatures and hydration but also a well-drained planting area plus proper lighting and nitrogen levels.
CALLA BOOKLETS, COILS & SHEETS
The calla issue is available as 10-stamp booklets, 50-stamp coils, two-stamp souvenir sheets both with and without a CAPEX 22 overprint plus a single-stamp OFDC.
Canada’s first international show in 26 years, CAPEX 22 is coming to Toronto on June 9-12.
Montréal’s Paprika firm designed the issue with illustrations by Québec artist Fanny Roy.
The Toronto-based security printer Colour Innovations printed 13,727,000 stamps altogether – 700,000 in booklets, 130,000 in coils, 70,000 in non-overprinted souvenir sheets, 40,000 in overprinted souvenir sheets and 7,000 on OFDCs. The booklets and souvenir sheets use six-colour lithography while the coils use four-colour lithography with a backing reading, “Year of the Garden 2022 / Année du jardin 2022,” marking a year-long series of events hosted by the Canadian Garden Council. While the booklet stamps measure 26 millimetres by 32 millimetres (vertical), the coil stamps are 20 millimetres by 24 millimetres. The stamps also feature Tullis Russell paper, tagging on four sides and pressure-sensitive gum (except for the souvenir sheets, both of which use polyvinyl acetate gum).
The OFDC features both calla stamps with a Brantford, Ont., pictorial postmark depicting a watering can.
ANNUAL FLOWERS SET A SPRING HARBINGER
Typically issued just in time for the spring wedding season, the yearly tradition dates back to March 2005, when Canada Post issued a set of daffodil stamps; however, the Crown corporation also issued a three-stamp definitive set featuring lilies the previous December.
Before 2005’s commemorative issue and 2004’s definitive set, orchid stamps were also issued in April 1999, roses were issued in August 2001 and tulips were issued in May 2002.
Canada Post named the series in 2007 following the success of the 2005-06 commemorative releases. Since the series was named, the various Flowers issues have featured lilacs (2007); peonies (2008); rhododendrons (2009); orchids (2010); sunflowers (2011); daylilies (2012); magnolias (2013); roses (2014); pansies (2015); hydrangeas (2016); daisies (2017); lotuses (2018); gardenias (2019); dahlias (2020); and crabapple blossoms (2021).
CANADA POST’S NEXT STAMPS
Canada Post’s next four issues include:
- an issue honouring organ and tissue donation on April 7;
- the annual Eid issue on April 12;
- an issue commemorating what Canada Post described as “a blues legend” on April 22; and
- an issue honouring endangered whales on May 20.