December 29, 2013

A Visit to Flower Harbor Park, West Lake, Hangzhou

A school of carp and a lonely peacock...


Hmmm, gardening in Toronto as 2013 ends? Not a pretty picture with many trees severely damaged due to the recent ice storm. (An estimated 20% of Toronto's tree canopy was destroyed.) Temperatures are also expected to plummet this week to lows of minus 15-20 degrees Celsius. 

And it's only the beginning of January!

I retrieved some pictures from a warmer time in July 2012 for you from our family's trip to China. This post covers part of a day visiting the Flower Harbor Park, a scenic attraction near the southwest part of West Lake (Xi Hu) area near Hangzhou, China.




Flower Harbor Park West Lake Hangzhou lotus bud by garden muses-a Toronto gardening blog
Flower Harbor Park, West Lake, Hangzhou lotus bud 

The Park ("Hua gang") should better be described as "Viewing Fish at Flower Harbor" as it is one of the ten idealized views of West Lake. (Others include the poetically named "Autumn Moon over the Calm Lake" and "Three Pools Mirroring the Moon".) Like the classical Chinese gardens in Suzhou (The Lingering Garden is one I profiled recently), the West Lake Cultural Landscape is considered by UNESCO as having "Outstanding Universal Value" and merits protection by being on its World Heritage List.

If you're a student of  landscape design, West Lake's poetic views express

"the very specific cultural tradition of improving landscapes to create a series of 'pictures' that reflect what was seen as a perfect fusion between people and nature, a tradition that evolved in the Tang and Song Dynasties and has continued its relevance to the present day. The 'improved' West Lake, with its exceptional array of man-made causeways, islands, bridges, gardens, pagodas and temples, against a backdrop of the wooded hills, can be seen as an entity that manifests this tradition in an outstanding way." Source: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1334
Flower Harbor Park West Lake Hangzhou lotus buds by garden muses-a Toronto gardening blog
Flower Harbor Park, West Lake, Hangzhou, lotus buds 

Maybe you're not really interested in Chinese landscape design and just want to see pretty flowers. Well, I got some good and bad news. The good news is that if you visit in late spring/early summer (May? June?), the Park's Peony Garden should be full of big blowsy herbaceous blooms. Apparently, crabapple, azaleas and peach blooms are glorious then as well.

The bad news is that I visited in July so no peonies for you this time. Visiting in May wouldn't be a bad time, weather-wise, as I expect the humidity and heat to be less oppressive.

More bad news: the lotus (Nelumbo nucifera?) above and below weren't in bloom yet!

Flower Harbor Park West Lake Hangzhou lotus by garden muses-a Toronto gardening blog
Flower Harbor Park, West Lake, Hangzhou, lotus



Flower Harbor Park West Lake Hangzhou garden muses-a Toronto gardening blog
Flower Harbor Park, West Lake, Hangzhou 


More "poetic" views seen from the paths and walkways throughout the park:


West Lake Flower Harbor Park Hangzhou  garden muses-a Toronto gardening blog
West Lake, Flower Harbor Park, Hangzhou  


West Lake Flower Harbor Park Hangzhou by garden muses-a Toronto gardening blog
West Lake, Flower Harbor Park, Hangzhou.
A little further to the right...


Flower Harbor Park West Lake Hangzhou by garden muses-a Toronto gardening blog
Flower Harbor Park, West Lake, Hangzhou.
 Nice borrowed view!



Flower Harbor Park West Lake Hangzhou China by garden muses-a Toronto gardening blog
Flower Harbor Park, West Lake, Hangzhou, China


Path Flower Harbor Park West Lake Hangzhou by garden muses-a Toronto gardening blog
Path at Flower Harbor Park, West Lake, Hangzhou 


Flower Harbor Park woods West Lake Hangzhou by garden muses-a Toronto gardening blog
Flower Harbor Park woods, West Lake, Hangzhou.
I guess the Musa are hardy here.

Flower Harbor Park West Lake Hangzhou peacock by garden muses-a Toronto gardening bloG
Flower Harbor Park, West Lake, Hangzhou peacock.
We didn't see females around so maybe he was strutting just for us!


We made our way to the most "touristy" part of the park: the Red Carp Pond.  Maybe "touristy" is mean-spirited, it's not like concession stands and hawkers were surrounding us. There were simply hundreds of visitors marvelling at the massive school of goldfish/carp/koi pooling around us, begging for fish food (which you could buy of course). I'm sure the gardens and plants were nice but the fish viewing was the real reason visitors came here. After all, the poetic description is "Viewing Fish at Flower Harbor", for good reasons:


Flower Harbor Park Red Carp Pond  West Lake Hangzhou by garden muses-a Toronto gardening blog
Flower Harbor Park, Red Carp Pond,  West Lake, Hangzhou

Red Carp Pond Flower Harbor Park West Lake Hangzhou by garden muses-a Toronto gardening blog
Red Carp Pond, Flower Harbor Park, West Lake, Hangzhou 

Sean at Red Carp Pond Flower Harbor Park West Lake Hangzhou by garden muses-a Toronto gardening blog
Sean at Red Carp Pond Flower Harbor Park, West Lake, Hangzhou


Do you have "poetic views" in your gardens?


By Paul Jung, author of "garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog" Google Google Find us on Google+