Fra­grant Seas of Snow

江南梅海迎客來

Vision Magazine - - Con­tents - ENGLISH TEXT BY AVA ZHANG CHINESE TEXT BY YAN XIA

Each Fe­bru­ary with the ar­rival of Spring, a tide of warmth washes into south­ern China, coax­ing the nascent plum trees into bloom. A gen­tle aroma

lls the air, at­tract­ing hundreds of thou­sands of peo­ple to the coun­try’s three ma­jor plum blos­som scenic sites.

每年初春二月,隨著中國江南的氣溫逐漸回升,梅花進入盛放期,淡淡的梅花香,卻飄香萬里。三大賞梅勝地迎來了八方遊客。

Plum Blos­som – King of Flow­ers

The plum blos­som orig­i­nates from south­ern China and em­bod­ies over three thou­sand years of his­tory. There are count­less va­ri­eties of plum trees, cul­ti­vated ei­ther as or­na­men­tal or fruit trees. The plum blos­som later found its way to other coun­tries such as Ja­pan and Korea.

Some say that ex­plor­ing the his­tory of the plum blos­som is a voyage through Chinese his­tory and cul­ture, hav­ing en­twined it­self into the cul­tural essence of the Chinese peo­ple over thou­sands of years.

Thou­sands of years ago, dur­ing the fi­nal period of the Eastern Han Dy­nasty, the Chinese gen­eral Cao Mengde asked his army to imag­ine a for­est of plum trees in or­der to quench their thirst. Dur­ing the North­ern Song dy­nasty, Chinese poet Lin He­jing left be­hind a fa­mous poem as an ode to the plum blos­som’s beauty and prais­ing its lin­ger­ing oth­er­worldly aroma.

The plum is a tra­di­tional Chinese fruit, while the plum blos­som em­bod­ies a more or­na­men­tal value. The blos­som is not only recog­nised as one of China’s top ten flow­ers, but it’s also one of the ‘four gen­tle­men’ plants along with the or­chid, bamboo and the chrysan­the­mum. Plum blossoms are also one of the ‘three friends of win­ter’, to­gether with the pine and bamboo. Chinese tra­di­tional cul­ture as­so­ciates plum flow­ers with a no­ble, re­silient and mod­est char­ac­ter. Thus, plum blossoms are of­ten seen as a sym­bol of strong will. Dur­ing the bit­ter chill of win­ter, the lone plum flow­ers be­gin to blos­som, herald­ing the ar­rival of spring.

Appreciation for the or­na­men­tal plum arose early in the Han Dy­nasty. There­after, dy­nasty af­ter dy­nasty of schol­ars, literati and artists pro­duced scores of pop­u­lar chap­ters, po­ems and paint­ings in­spired by the plum blos­som. The plum blos­som’s per­va­sive cul­tural sig­nif­i­cance led the Repub­lic of China (ROC) to es­tab­lish the plum blos­som as its na­tional flower in 1929.

梅花—花中之魁

梅原產中國南方,已有三千多年的栽培歷史,無論作觀賞或果樹均有許多品種,後來發展到了韓國與日本等地。

有人說,探究梅花,可以解讀出一部中國歷史,一部中國文化史。

從東漢末年的曹孟德揚鞭遙指梅林、誘導兵士『望梅止渴』,到北宋詩人林和靖留下傳誦千古的名句『疏影橫斜水清淺,暗香浮動月黃昏』,千百年來梅與中國人的日常生活和文化精神結下不解之緣。

梅是中國特有的傳統花果,梅花更具很高的觀賞價值,不但居中國十大名花之首,與蘭花、竹子、菊花一起列為「四君子」。梅又與松、竹並稱為「歲寒三友」。在中國的傳統文化中,梅花通常被冠以高潔、堅強、謙虛等品格,並以頌揚梅花來激勵人的意志。在嚴寒中,梅開百花之先,獨天下而春。

中國歷史上,觀賞梅花大致始自漢初。各朝各代,文人墨客為梅花留下無數膾炙人口的篇章、詩詞與畫作。

正因為此,早在 1929 年時,中華民國政府將梅花定位國花。

Fra­grance flows over ten miles at Chaoshan

Since an­cient times, south­ern China has cul­ti­vated three renowned scenic plum blos­som sites – Chaoshan in Yu Hang dis­trict, Mount Deng­wei in Suzhou and the Wuxi Plum Gar­den. The say­ing, ‘miles of a fra­grant sea of snow’ stems from the spec­ta­cle where plum blossoms stretch­ing for miles form a sea of pink against a back­drop of flut­ter­ing white snowflakes.

Chaoshan boasts en­chant­ing land­scapes fea­tur­ing nu­mer­ous his­tor­i­cal sites, sweep­ing plains and rugged hills. It sits 29 kilo­me­ters from Hangzhou and is renowned for its plum blos­som dom­i­nated land­scapes. Chaoshan is cel­e­brated for en­com­pass­ing plum va­ri­eties that are an­cient, boun­ti­ful and unique. The site em­bod­ies over 1000 years of plum cultivating his­tory with a to­tal of 50,000 plum trees, in­clud­ing va­ri­eties such as the white, red and green stemmed plum blossoms.

There are five great an­cient Chinese plum trees – Chu Mei, Jun Mei, Sui Mei, Tang Mei and Song Mei. Chaoshan fea­tures the lat­ter two.

超山十里香雪海

而自古以來,江南就形成了三大探梅勝地,餘杭的超山、蘇州的鄧蔚和無錫的梅園,其中位於浙江餘杭的超山風景名勝區更擁有「十里香雪海」的美譽,在梅花盛開的季節裡,方圓十餘里,遙天映紅、飛雪漫空,成為當地的一大奇觀。

超山是一座風光綺麗、古蹟眾多、傳說迷人的平原小山,距杭州29公里,它因梅景而聞名,其梅花品種更以「古、廣、奇」三絕而著名。超山梅花已有 1000 多年的種植歷史,目前共有5萬株梅樹,品種包括白梅、紅梅、綠萼梅等,以白梅居多。

中國有五大古梅,如楚梅、晉梅、隋梅、唐梅、宋梅。超山就有其二——唐梅和宋梅。

Graced by Em­per­ors at Mount Deng­wei

Mt Deng­wei Scenic Area lies 30 kilo­me­tres south­west of Suzhou City and is part of the Suzhou Lake Tai Na­tional Re­sort Dis­trict.

A lo­cal an­cient relic fea­tures a say­ing that “plant­ing plum trees is as com­mon as plant­ing wheat crops”. This say­ing demon­strates the abun­dance of plum trees the area is fa­mous for.

Deng­wei plum blossoms be­came fa­mous dur­ing the time of Qing Em­peror Kangxi. At the time, Gover­nor Song stum­bled into a gen­tle waft of sweet aroma and a bound­less sea of blossoms. He in­scribed the words ‘Fra­grant Sea of Snow’ on the cliff­side.

Em­peror Kangxi un­der­took six south­ern ex­pe­di­tions, stop­ping at Deng­wei each time, while his grand­son, Em­peror Qian­long, also ex­plored the Deng­wei plum blossoms six times, es­tab­lish­ing the ‘Fra­grant Sea of Snow’ as a jewel among the south­ern China plum blossoms.

鄧蔚梅花帝王影

鄧尉山梅花景區,距蘇州城西南 30 公里處,隸屬蘇州太湖國家旅遊度假區。在當地的世傳文籍古詩中,有「望衡千餘家,種梅如種穀」之句,可見山裡梅樹之多。

鄧尉梅花的出名是在清代康熙年間。當時的巡撫大臣宋犖巡遊於此,聞梅香暗湧,花海無垠,便在山崖上題了「香雪海」三個大字。清康熙帝六次南巡,曾數度於此駐蹕。乾隆皇帝六下鄧尉探梅,使「香雪海」成了江南梅苑中的一個「寵兒」。

Wuxi Plum Gar­den

Wuxi Plum Gar­den over­looks the vast Lake Tai, while Dragon Moun­tain tow­ers over the scenic spot. It has long had the rep­u­ta­tion of one of South­ern China’s most beau­ti­ful plum blos­som sites.

Wuxi Plum Gar­den was founded in 1912 by the Rong broth­ers, two well-known na­tional bour­geois in­dus­tri­al­ists, fa­ther and un­cle of Chinese bil­lion­aire Rong Yiren. The two Rong broth­ers took ten years to es­tab­lish the gar­den, plant­ing thou­sands of plum trees. Gar­den ar­chi­tects molded the gar­den to the ter­rain, re­sult­ing in the plum blossoms dec­o­rat­ing the moun­tain in perfect har­mony with the nat­u­ral land­scape. At one point the whole area was Rong Yiren’s pri­vate gar­den. The gar­den which cov­ers an area of 810 acres was clas­si­fied un­der state ad­min­is­tra­tion in 1955 and is cur­rently a protected her­itage site.

無錫榮氏梅花園

無錫梅園,全名無錫榮氏梅園,面臨太湖萬頃,背靠龍山九峰,以梅花馳名,是久享盛譽的江南賞梅勝地。

梅園始建於 1912 年,是中國紅色資本家榮毅仁的前輩,著名民族工商業者榮氏二兄弟經十餘年建成,並植梅樹數千株。園林設計者根據地勢高低,結合梅園特點,以梅飾山,倚山植梅,梅以山而秀,山因梅而幽,別具特色。曾一度成為榮毅仁的私家花園。

1955 年,歸為國家管理,佔地擴建到了 810 畝,目前是全國重點文物保護單位。

PHOTO CREDIT: FOTOLIA

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