Historic wetland bursts with color and beauty

Wu Huixin
At this time of year, the undulating white reed flowers look like snowflakes shimmering in the wind at Xixi Wetland National Park.
Wu Huixin

At this time of the year, the undulating white reed flowers look like snowflakes shimmering in the wind at Xixi Wetland National Park. Sitting in a traditional Hangzhou-style gondola, people can hear only the sound of the oars paddling through the water. Now, visitors can enjoy this unique experience at Xixi park.

The 17th Snowy Reeds Festival is underway at the park and will last through January 3. It is considered a must-see attraction in Hangzhou.

Visitors are recommended to take a traditional boat at Zhoujia Village Dock to the Qiuxue Nunnery Dock through the wetland's rivers and streams.

Those who visit through this area can admire 24-hectare flowering reeds of three main species, namely, dilu (狄芦), luzhu (芦竹) and luwei (芦苇). On sunny days, their seed heads catch the golden color of the setting sun as they scatter in the breeze.

Throughout the dynasties, an endless stream of poets eulogized the beauty of the Xixi Wetland and penned an abundance of poems about the reeds.

During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the Jiaoyuan Poets Society was established at today's Xixi Wetland and consisted of prominent women. It was one of the renowned female litterateur societies in China at that time. Though the original group no longer exists, its spirit is carried on by a group of modern female poets who lead the New Jiaoyuan Poets Society.

During the Republic of China (1912-1949), an ancestral hall was established at Xixi to commemorate authors with ties to Xixi, including noted Su Dongpo (1037-1101), Xin Qiji (1140-1207) and Li Qingzhao (1084-1155).

This year, the festival started with a ritual ceremony commemorating 1,044 writers that have been venerated in the ancestral hall for a century. Local primary students and modern poets from poetry organizations in Zhejiang Province attended the ceremony and shared their own verses.

Opposite the reed marshes, about 5,000 square meters of verbenas are blooming at Hongyuan Pavilion, a component of the park.

The pavilion is known for its kaleidoscope of colors. Maples, cornflowers, sunflowers and persimmon fruit paint the park a mix of yellow, orange, red and gold over the four seasons. The sight of the colorful leaves and flowers against a clear blue sky is one of the great charms of Hangzhou.

In addition to the attractive landscape, Hongyuan Pavilion also boasts a long history.

The Hong family has lived here since the Song Dynasty (960-1279) and flourished during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Many court officials came from this prestigious family. Today, the pavilion still retains the family's ancestral halls.

Special Reports