blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Botanical Gardens of Hangzhou

June 9th, Thursday

In the afternoon, from the 16th floor, over a pot of green tea of which I drank the lot, being so dehydrated from the heat, I watched a humdinger of a thunderstorm. I was lucky to have got indoors in time. From the bus stop to the hotel entrance the sky was dark with flying dust and litter blown up high in the downdraft from the storm; my eyes felt gritty. Cyclists looked up anxiously and started to put their coloured capes on. Then from the hotel I saw the barges buffeting upstream against waves breaking on the Qiantang, the wind coming from the west as it does in Canada, and terrific lines of lightning as well as sheet lightning over the skyscrapers.

There was astonishing clarity after the storm. I saw ranges of hills I'd never known were there.

(My camera lens steamed up in the heat and humidity!)
The day had begun hot (really hot) and sunny; I took a taxi to the Botanical Gardens with an entrance fee of 10 yuan, senior's rate. The numerous signposts in the gardens weren't of much help, since everything is shady garden in that part of town for miles and miles around, with ponds interspersed, but I managed to identify Watching Fish at Yuquan, a scenic spot famous since the 12th century, with "bamboos and ancient trees reaching into skies" where "various flowers contend in beauty." More trees than flowers, actually, and I learned that the ones with mottled, peeling bark were plantanus hispanicus and that the yew-like bushes with thick, wide needles, were podocarpus marcrophyllus. The feathery tall trees in the woods were beautiful examples of metasequoia glyptostroboides and I compiled a list of several more Latin names for my botanist sister.

The city's official tree is the cinnamomum camphora:
The ancient camphor trees are elegant in groups; thousands of leaf layers, falling their shade everywhere. At the cusp of spring and summer the green small flowers split the full branches. The light breeze delivers the fragrance and gladdens the heart.
and the city's flower is the osmanthus fragrans:
The light yellowish sweet osmanthus, has exaggerated Hangzhou with the deep inside story of two big cultures, Wu and Yue, and has exaggerated the happiness of Hangzhou’s person.
Stepping stones over a lily pond
(to quote from the International College Zhejiang University website) ... not in bloom during my stay. The famous peach and plum trees growing in the Botanical Gardens and on the causeways across the lake were no longer blossoming either, but one of Chris' Huawei colleagues had given us some deliciously fresh peaches from his orchard, to eat at our hotel.

"Did you find any surprises at the Botanical Gardens?" asked Chris. I did come across a cluster of small metal huts in the forest that puzzled me, one got up to look like a miniature Christian chapel with crosses on its porch and roof and linked hearts inside behind the "altar." A row of hooped arches decorated with coloured, artificial flowers led to its doorway, the pathway beneath them covered in confetti, so then I realised what that was for. I wasn't so sure about the other little huts.

It's obviously a trendy thing for the Chinese to borrow ideas from western culture, but they don't always get it quite right, like the restaurant named "Dollar Store" or the shops playing "Santa ... hurry down the chimney tonight" as background music while you do your shopping in June, and the street sweeping vehicles warning you to get out of the way with a merry, repetitive, electronic tune: "Happy Birthday to you, happy Birthday to you..."

On my way back to Jiefang Lu I passed one of my favourite quirky juxtapositions, the Casablanca Country Pub in the park beside Hubin Lu where I picked up a leaflet for tourists in English:
You CANNOT stop the Water Bus by waving hands.
It also gives some advice regarding the climate:
Summer, hot. Good to wear cotton thin clothes (skirt) and topee.

1 comment:

QEL Mechanical said...

Camera lens at dewpoint - people pay good money for that look!