More than flowers

By Huang Yiran Source:Global Times Published: 2019/5/14 18:53:41

International Horticultural Exhibition 2019 Beijing provides a space for cultural exchange

The China Pavilion at the International Horticultural Exhibition 2019 Beijing Photo: Li Hao/GT

"Ten, nine, eight… three, two, one!" As the child counted down the numbers from a loudspeaker, a fountain started to spurt out water along with music. Surrounded by various trees, flowers and plants, children ran and played around the fountain while their parents were busy capturing the happy moments with cellphones or cameras.

This is the scene you can see every day at the UK Garden of the International Horticultural Exhibition 2019 Beijing, China, the largest horticultural exhibition in the world that kicked off on April 29. A total of 110 countries and international organizations have attended the 162-day event. Themed "Live Green, Live Better," it is not only a botanical show, but also a cultural carnival where different countries display and exchange their cultures and ideas about green development.

UK Garden: innovating for a greener future

With the theme of "Innovating for a greener future," the UK Garden and Pavilion span health, personal and urban spaces, biodiversity, UK heritage and art.

In the garden, visitors will learn how herbs and flowers can be used in everyday food and drink. They'll also be shown how urban space can be transformed into areas of cultivation and natural playgrounds by bringing the natural world into the city and inspiring people to live more sustainable lives.

In the corner of the garden stands a greenhouse, which is made of recycled bottles. On the roof of the house, many herbs and flowers are planted. Sara Everett, UK Commissioner General and Project Director for the Beijing Expo 2019, said that this is a project developed by the charity organization Groundworks, whose mission is to "turn grey into green."

"It's to encourage people to think about growing their own plants for food," she said.

"Our garden is a vibrant celebration of British horticultural heritage and creativity," said Christina Scott, Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy in Beijing, on the opening day of the Expo. "We are delighted to be sharing it with all the visitors here at the Beijing Expo. I hope they will be inspired by our exciting program that includes the best of Britain in film, sport, television and music."

Richard Burn, Her Majesty's Trade Commissioner for China (center), Christina Scott (right) and Sara Everett attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony on the opening day of the UK Pavilion. Photo: Huang Yiran/GT

Germany Garden: seeding the future

Next to the UK Garden is the Germany Pavilion. In front of the pavilion, a "panda" and a "bear," representing China and Germany respectively, welcome tourists from all over the world.

The Germany Garden demonstrates how growing cities can be sustainable and livable with innovative gardening and landscaping. At the entrance, tourists are given a little cloth bag, which contains a real flower seed. By scanning the QR code on the bag via different interactive devices, tourists can activate the interpreter in any given area of the pavilion. This enables people to not only know Germany's history of green development, but also enjoy a tour with visual and auditory satisfaction. At the exit, several screens were surrounded by excited visitors, who are eager to know what kind of seed is in the bag. A girl scanned the QR code at one machine and an animation of a flower blossoming appeared on the system's screen, notifying her that she received a "sunflower seed."

May 13 is the German "National Day" at the exhibition. Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture of Germany, Julia Klöckner, gave a speech to welcome all visitors, saying that "Roof gardens, city apiaries and community gardens are all ways for people to bring nature back into cities actively with a variety of green initiatives."

"Our exhibit at the Horticultural Expo is a clear message from our ministry on the contribution Germany and its innovative horticultural and landscaping industry have been making towards sustainable and livable urban development while creating natural habitats in a variety of ways," said Klöckner. "Everyone can make their own impression of it all here in China."

A "panda" and a "bear" welcome tourists in the Germany Garden. Photo: Huang Yiran/GT

India Garden: spiritual yard

As a country with a long history and rich culture, India includes its religious culture and life philosophy in the design of their garden. 

"The India Garden is a spiritual garden. It is a garden for well-being, and it traces the common culture of Buddhism between China and India, which goes back thousands of years," said Narender Nath, director of the India Pavilion. 

At the entrance of the India Garden, visitors can see a gate which is from the famous pilgrimage site of Sanchi. The carving on the gate tells all the stories of the life of Buddha. In the center of the garden stands a statue of a man sitting on a lotus flower. Around the garden, you can also find many sculptures of hands that are in different gestures. According to Nath, these designs are all about yoga.

"Yoga is beyond religion. It is something for the well-being of every person," said Nath. He points out that just as Chinese people have the tradition of acupuncture and moxibustion, Indian people like to do yoga to reach their "inner being."

"We are just brining all the traditions which are common between India and China for the young people to understand how strong the bond and the link are between the two countries from old times," Nath said.

The gate of the India Garden Photo: Huang Yiran/GT

According to the Beijing International Horticultural Exhibition Coordination Bureau, more than 2,500 activities will be held during the 162-day event to involve more tourists into the green carnival. These cultural activities, such as "National Day" celebrations, float parades, world ethnic and folk cultural performances, and art carnivals staged by different countries and organizations all over the world, enrich the meaning of horticultural exhibition and provide a space for cultural and people-to-people exchanges.

A recent poll shows that over 80 percent of visitors feel satisfied with the event, according to a People's Daily report. "We really enjoy this tour," a visitor surnamed Chen who was visiting the exhibition with his family told the Global Times. He wanted to take this chance to let his son know more about nature and plants. "It's a good way to educate kids rather than let them play computer games at home."

"It's convenient to travel with the elderly," said a tourist surnamed Jia, who pushed her father in a wheelchair. "Staff and volunteers help us to carry the wheelchair to the "green channel" and tell us how to take elevators. It's really a good experience."


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