A unique way to enjoy lotus flowers up close

Wu Huixin
Normally appreciated only at a distance because of its watery home, an exhibition at the botanic garden brings this beautiful flower close enough to smell and touch.
Wu Huixin
A unique way to enjoy lotus flowers up close
Ti Gong

Visitors can take a close look at over 140 species of lotus flowers in pots at Hangzhou Botanic Garden through July 11.

From now till September is the flowering season of the lotus, long been appreciated for its beauty, elegance and fragrance.

Growing in mud, it blossoms into a lovely flower and is recognized as the incarnation of beauty and purity, as well as honesty and persistence.

As the lotus grows in ponds and lakes, the usual way most people see them is looking down from a distance. But an ongoing exhibition, at Hangzhou Botanic Garden through July 11, aims to bring visitors a close-up look.

The exhibition features 140 types and over 200 pots of lotus, which grow at the perfect height for smelling and touching.

Botanists from the botanic garden have bred a unique variety. Their petals, large or small, have a crisp, smooth texture, with delicate hues gradually changing from the bottom to the tip and large elegant leaves spreading on surface.

The highlight of the exhibition is a lotus flower sprouting from a millennium-old seed unearthed in Kaifeng City, Henan Province, which was the royal capital dating to the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127). Discovered in 2015, the seed began to flower in 2017 and since then blooms every summer.

"Lotus seeds can be dormant for a long time buried underground. If utterly sealed in an air-free environment, the seed will not decay and will bud again," said Song Hong, a botanist from the garden. "We use the asexual reproduction method to cultivate it to preserve the purity of the ancient seed."

Another highlight is the Gushan Wangmei, whose flowers, roots and leaves are small enough to fit in a bowl. It is named after the Gushan Hill, as the color is similar to the plum blossom there.

The aquatic lotus highlights the city's charm in the hot season, and it's a tradition of thousands of years at the West Lake to cultivate the plant. Except for the exhibition, West Lake area has the most renowned spots to appreciate lotus in and around the city, including Lotus in the Breeze at Crooked, No. 1 Park, Flower Garden and Beishan Road.

Lotus Exhibition

Date: Through July 11

Admission: free for the exhibition; 10 yuan (US$1.5) for the botanic garden

Address: 1 Taoyuanling Rd


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