Fragrant Seas of Snow
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.
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.
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。
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。
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.
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