There is a nice touch in the short Chinese version of the name of the Shenzhen International Flower and Garden Expo. It is called Yuan Bo Yuan, meaning Garden of Garden Exhibitions. As well as referencing its longer Chinese name, this name pays homage to Beijing’s Old Summer Palace, the one destroyed by invading European forces in 1860. The official name of the Old Summer Palace is Yuan Ming Yuan, or Garden of Perfect Brightness. So this becomes Yuan Bo Yuan, the Garden of Perfect Exhibitions.

The reference to the Old Summer Palace is appropriate because, like the old palace, this garden recreates the classic Chinese pleasure garden in creating a large number of different environments, each in a different local style.

The garden started life as the site of the Fifth China International Flower and Garden Expo, attested by the regular appearance around the park of the Expo’s mascot Yuan Yuan.

The Expo opened on 23 September 2004 with participation from 25 countries and 67 Chinese cities. Each participant was given a piece of land for its exhibit and the exhibits were connected via paths and roads. At the end of the Expo, the Park was opened to the public as a garden and exhibition site.

The garden has an area of 660,000 sq. m. and is divided into four sections spread around a high and steep hill on which stands a full size pagoda, the Fu Ta or Happiness Pagoda. To the south are a lake, a large musical fountain, and an exhibition hall. When we visited, there was an exhibition of interior decoration. Around the lake in February and early March there is a brilliant display of azaleas which seems to get better every year. The western section concentrates on the area around Shenzhen with Hakka themes predominating.

The northern section is predominantly foreign gardens, a Canadian garden, an American Garden, even a Bolivian garden in Andean style. Of the Chinese style gardens in this area we were charmed by the Dongpo garden entered by Huizhou City. This garden commemorates the great Song Dynasty 12th century poet Su Dongpo. Su was a classical Chinese poet. He was also a very competent administrator, still remembered for his public works including his famous scenic causeway through the West Lake at Hangzhou.

But, as a man of principle, he was often at daggers drawn with the Song reformer Wang Anshi who exiled him on several occasions. His most famous exile was to Huizhou, about forty miles north of Shenzhen, where he wrote 400 poems and recreated the scenery of the Hangzhou West Lake in a garden, which is still there. The Dongpo Garden at Yuan Bo Yuan is in this style.

The eastern section is devoted to classical Chinese style gardens, which means gardens of the Jiangnan, the area around Suzhou and Wuxi. These take water and pavilions as their basis. This style of garden is seeing a welcome revival after fifty years of neglect.

In the middle of the garden is some very spectacular garden architecture, a broad paved pathway leading from the main gate, across the lake and up a wide staircase with a river running down the middle of it. We were a bit disappointed when, panting, we scaled the

final stairs and found that in the middle of the square at the top was a statue of Yuan Yuan, the mascot. But the vista to the south was spectacular, down the stairs, across the lake to Shenzhen Bay and the towers of Tin Shui Wai to the south.

Once past Yuan Yuan, we suggest that you continute slightly to the east and climb up to the Fu Tower. This is the eight-storey pagoda visible from all parts of the park. 150 steps through the bush, past a magnificent waterfall will lead you to the base of the pagoda and a further 242 steps will take you to the top. It’s a bit of an effort but eventually it gives you views all over Shenzhen and south over Deep Bay to Hong Kong.

You have to be reasonably fit to do this. There’s a lot of up and down hill. In summer we’d recommend that you use the mobile-guided tour.

Address: Shennan Ave/Qiaocheng E. Rd. Interchange Zhuzilin, Futian

Open: 9 am to 8 pm Entry is $20.

Buses 204, 113, 209, 323, 234, 502, 21, 22, 26, 303 Qiao Cheng Dong or Zhu Zi Lin bus stops

Metro: Qiao Cheng Dong or Zhu Zi Lin Line 1


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