China – Flower Blossoms & Peony
April 8th to April 22nd, 2008
‘Nothing if more
delightful than to meet new friends from afar’
|‘Your tour to China was very
well done and I know we got to see a lot more than anyone. I also
know that if you gave the tour, the accommodation and the food would
be good as you did such a great job on my Chelsea tour.’
|‘I thought the arrangements in
China were very well done with unexpected snags dealt with quickly.
Friends have asked whether we would go to China again. Without
hesitation, we say that we certainly would. We thought that the
language barrier would inhibit meeting Chinese people but this was
not the case. We found them friendly and eager to meet us and have
photos of their kids and families. China is at the same time
historically stunning and dynamically modern. It would take a
lifetime to explore it in detail and by that time, it would likely
have changed beyond recognition. We saw what we expected to see and
a whole lot more. Having gardens as a principal focus was a great
idea. There are simply too many diversions possible unless there is
a meaningful focus such as we had on this tour. Overall value for
time/money.... excellent. I enjoyed the cultural aspects (temples,
tea plantation, crafts shops etc) as it helped me understand the
gardens, why things are the way they are.’
In 2005 I had the pleasure of
seeing some of these sights that we visited on this very special custom
tour. It was pretty awesome arriving into Beijing and what surprised me even
more was to see how modern it was and how green with many parks. Beijing can
trace its history back 3,000 years and is the capital of China.
The Chinese have enjoyed and cultivated flowers for at least 3000 years.
Ancient poems celebrate the people’s happiness when spring flowers came to
the market. Peonies, chrysanthemums, camellias and other flowers in
countless hybrid varieties of have long been grown and enjoyed in China.
Each of the four seasons is associated with special flowers, and today there
are many festivals that celebrate all the varieties of flora that the
Chinese dearly love.
In the spring of 2008 we conducted a special tour of China, my first tour
there, and it was a resounding success. As a result more are planned so
please check on our tours only site at
the latest and most unique garden tours.
I arrived into Beijing on the 7th of April as I was meeting with Susan from
China TV to do a short do it yourself program with her for local television
the morning of the 8th. That morning I met with her and off we went to visit
some of her friends and their gardens before setting up for the shoot in one
of those gardens. The area was upper middle class where the homes were big
and in gated communities. What I loved about the area was the gates at each
of the homes…very sophisticated. The spring flowering trees were a joy to
see in this neighborhood and meeting Susan’s friends was wonderful. For the
shoot I had to speak slowly and as I was speaking had to do two short pieces
using items that could be found around the home. I picked boots and
children’s blue jeans. Plants could then be put in and rotated into the
garden once the blooms were spent. Easy to make with items found in the
home. Then after this was done I would put all my words into an email so
they could translate it into Chinese for the program.
Susan is an author of garden books as well as photographer and I got to see
what her work was like as she gave me copies to take home with me. She
writes for local magazines as well so is a very busy lady. So now I have a
video coming with the program on it, and well as a magazine coming that
features some of the photos that I have taken for a spring garden article.
It will be very interesting to see how these two turned out.
April 9th was the official arrival into Beijing Capital International
Airport where they were met and delivered to the Jinglun hotel. We later met
for our welcome dinner.
An ancient king named Wu was the first to declare Beijing a capital city in
1057 BC. The area in ancient times comprised a Chinese kingdom named You
(pronounced “Yoh”). It first served as the capital city of all of China
during the reign of the Mongol emperors in the Yuan Dynasty in the 13th
century. The city has gone by the names of Ji, Zhongdu, Dadu, and finally
Beijing (“Northern Capital”), when the Ming Dynasty Emperor Cheng Zu moved
the capital here from Nanjing (“Southern Capital”) in 1421. Beijing was
widely known as Peking by the Western world before 1949.