Mini Gar­dens Make Beau­ti­ful Homes

Beijing (English) - - CONTENTS - Trans­lated by Wang Hui­hui Edited by David Ball Pho­tos by Zhao Meng

There are now 24 hor­ti­cul­ture cen­tres across the cap­i­tal. They pop­u­larise in­for­ma­tion re­lated to hor­ti­cul­ture and pro­vide peo­ple with some green space. The Rend­inghu Hor­ti­cul­ture Pro­mo­tion Cen­tre, lo­cated in the Rend­inghu Park cen­tre in Xicheng Dis­trict, is one of them.

Tucked away in Xicheng Dis­trict, Bei­jing, the Rend­inghu Hor­ti­cul­ture Pro­mo­tion Cen­tre is set in beau­ti­ful sur­round­ings with green vines, cherry toma­toes, fra­grant pep­per­mint and vi­brant purslanes, pro­vid­ing a cool spot for peo­ple to es­cape the heat of sum­mer.

Bei­jing has es­tab­lished hor­ti­cul­ture pro­mo­tion cen­tres to pop­u­larise in­for­ma­tion about hor­ti­cul­ture, in­tro­duce hor­ti­cul­tural prod­ucts, con­duct re­lated train­ing and pro­vide peo­ple with a green place for leisure. Rend­inghu Hor­ti­cul­ture Pro­mo­tion Cen­tre is just one cen­tre that is in­tro­duc­ing eco­log­i­cal con­cepts and hor­ti­cul­ture to Bei­jingers. There are cur­rently 24 of these types of cen­tres across the city.

Hor­ti­cul­ture Mes­sen­gers

The Rend­inghu Hor­ti­cul­ture Pro­mo­tion Cen­tre is lo­cated in the Rend­inghu Park cen­tre and cov­ers an area of over 200 square me­tres (sq.m). Con­nected to the lake, the cen­tre fea­tures a beau­ti­ful, pleas­ant en­vi­ron­ment that com­ple­ments the over­all style of the park.

Walk­ing in­side the pro­mo­tion cen­tre, vis­i­tors are im­mersed in a green world with plants on the floor, hang­ing from the ceil­ing and placed on the win­dowsills. In­side, there are even two par­rots that make the cen­tre more vi­brant. Mov­ing along, vis­i­tors en­ter an­other area com­pletely dif­fer­ent from the out­side, where dozens of ta­bles and chairs have been neatly placed. Book­cases lin­ing the wall are filled with books on gar­den­ing and a pro­jec­tor and screen are avail­able for lec­tures.

This uniquely- de­signed pro­mo­tion cen­tre was built af­ter the park cleared out its non- es­sen­tial func­tions. At the end of 2015, the park's man­age­ment of­fice de­cided to build the cen­tre on un­used ground to help in­form the pub­lic about con­cepts and skills use­ful in home gar­den­ing.

As the de­part­ment re­spon­si­ble for

the hor­ti­cul­ture pro­mo­tion cen­tre, the Rend­inghu Park Man­age­ment Of­fice has been work­ing hard to help the cen­tre play a key role. Lv Yan­shun, di­rec­tor of the park's man­age­ment of­fice, ex­plained that the books, mag­a­zines and news­pa­pers on hor­ti­cul­ture in the book­cases are avail­able for vis­i­tors to browse, a reg­u­lar se­ries of lec­tures and train­ing cour­ses are con­ducted to teach hor­ti­cul­tural skills, and the man­age­ment of­fice also in­vites res­i­dents to par­tic­i­pate in var­i­ous ac­tiv­i­ties so that they can en­joy the ex­pe­ri­ence of cul­ti­vat­ing plants them­selves.

A wide range of ac­tiv­i­ties have sparked res­i­dents' in­ter­est in gar­den­ing. Many lo­cal res­i­dents even take their own strug­gling plants to the pro­mo­tion cen­tre for spe­cial care from the staff, which they then take back home af­ter get­ting pro­fes­sional guid­ance on how to care for them. Lv said: “The Rend­inghu Hor­ti­cul­ture Pro­mo­tion Cen­tre or­gan­ises lec­tures and shows to ig­nite res­i­dents' in­ter­est in gar­den­ing, help them re­alise the ben­e­fits of home gar­den­ing and sub­tly arouse their de­sire to love and care plants. These mea­sures will have a big ef­fect on en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion and mak­ing the area greener.”

At present, Bei­jing's 24 hor­ti­cul­ture pro­mo­tion cen­tres are dis­trib­uted across three dis­tricts, with 21 in Xicheng Dis­trict, two in Haid­ian Dis­trict and one in Yan­qing Dis­trict. They en­deav­our to pro­mote eco­log­i­cal con­cepts, teach hor­ti­cul­tural skills and ad­vo­cate the pro­tec­tion of veg­e­ta­tion. In 2018, the Bei­jing Gar­den­ing and Green­ing Bureau (Cap­i­tal Green­ing Of­fice) be­gan to pro­mote a pi­lot project for build­ing hor­ti­cul­ture pro­mo­tion cen­tres across the city. Chen Changwu, deputy di­rec­tor of the Li­ai­son Of­fice of the Bei­jing Gar­den­ing and Green­ing Bureau, ex­plained that the core func­tion of hor­ti­cul­ture pro­mo­tion cen­tres is re­lated to res­i­dents and home gar­den­ing. Through the use of Hor­ti­cul­ture Read­ing Area, Eco­log­i­cal Work View­ing Area and Skills Train­ing Area, the pub­lic can learn more about home gar­den­ing, mas­ter re­lated skills and grasp var­i­ous con­cepts by watch­ing, lis­ten­ing and learn­ing.

De­spite their fixed func­tion, the hor­ti­cul­ture pro­mo­tion cen­tres come in var­ied forms and the cur­rent 24 can re­ceive dif­fer­ent num­bers of vis­i­tors, rang­ing from 30 to over 100 peo­ple. The rea­son for these dif­fer­ences lies in the dif­fer­ent ar­eas of the sites. Cur­rently, the sites are used for hor­ti­cul­tural pub­lic­ity, skill train­ing and ex­change ac­tiv­i­ties. Each of the hor­ti­cul­ture pro­mo­tion cen­tres has a dis­tinct style. They were de­signed to in­te­grate with the sur­round­ing nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment.

Lead­ing Dis­trict

As a leader in the con­struc­tion and pro­mo­tion of hor­ti­cul­ture pro­mo­tion cen­tres, Xicheng Dis­trict boasts the largest num­ber of cen­tres and was the first to estab­lish a pro­mo­tion cen­tre. Kang Xin, head of the Green­ing De­part­ment of the Xicheng Dis­trict Gar­den­ing and Green­ing Bureau, said that the bureau has been or­gan­is­ing fam­ily gar­den­ing ac­tiv­i­ties since 2010 to pop­u­larise home gar­den­ing and spread the con­cept of gar­den­ing. For ex­am­ple, it has con­ducted hor­ti­cul­ture lec­tures about home gar­den­ing; pro­vided flowers for res­i­dents to grow and taught them how to keep flowers on bal­conies, court­yards and al­leys; and pro­moted con­cepts and skills re­lated to home gar­den­ing. These ac­tiv­i­ties are bold at­tempts and in­no­va­tive ex­plo­rations by Xicheng Dis­trict. They not only pro­mote the con­cept of home gar­den­ing but also make bet­ter use of pub­lic spa­ces such as lo­cal parks, green­ways and com­mu­ni­ties.

As it con­tin­ues to de­velop home gar­den­ing ac­tiv­i­ties, Xicheng Dis­trict Gar­den­ing and Green­ing Bureau is seek­ing to fur­ther stan­dard­ise and en­rich them, seek ad­di­tional pub­lic spa­ces to build fixed hor­ti­cul­ture bases and pro­vide the pub­lic with more pro­fes­sional ed­u­ca­tion and dis­play plat­forms for home gar­den­ing. In Au­gust 2015, the You'an Hor­ti­cul­ture Pro­mo­tion Cen­tre— the first of its kind in Xicheng Dis­trict— was built and came into op­er­a­tion. Later, pro­mo­tion cen­tres were built, in­clud­ing the Rend­inghu, Yue­tan, Wan­shou, Xin­jiekou, Shicha­hai and Tao­ran cen­tres. As of 2018, Xicheng Dis­trict, with pol­icy and fund­ing sup­port from the dis­trict gov­ern­ment, has achieved its goal of build­ing at least one hor­ti­cul­ture pro­mo­tion cen­tre in each sub- dis­trict and formed a hor­ti­cul­ture pro­mo­tion net­work cov­er­ing the whole dis­trict.

Each pro­mo­tion cen­tre or­gan­ises at least 24 reg­u­lar pub­lic ac­tiv­i­ties and 10 hol­i­day and fes­ti­val- ori­ented ac­tiv­i­ties a year and also car­ries out the “Hor­ti­cul­tural Cul­ture Pop­u­lar­i­sa­tion Week” in the fi­nal week of the year, guar­an­tee­ing the ef­fec­tive op­er­a­tion and pop­u­lar­i­sa­tion of hor­ti­cul­ture knowl­edge and skills.

Im­prove­ments have been made in the Xicheng Dis­trict hor­ti­cul­ture pro­mo­tion cen­tres. Each cen­tre has es­tab­lished a group of teach­ers made up of from pro­fes­sional hor­ti­cul­tural in­sti­tu­tions to teach, guide and train res­i­dents in­ter­ested in hor­ti­cul­ture and nur­ture more tal­ented gar­den­ers. To bet­ter meet the needs of res­i­dents, each pro­mo­tion cen­tre con­tin­ues to or­gan­ise reg­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties whilst also pre­par­ing a num­ber of spe­cial ac­tiv­i­ties, such as en­cour­ag­ing the staff and res­i­dents to beau­tify the nearby al­leys; ad­vo­cat­ing the build­ing of green homes, schools and com­mu­ni­ties; or­gan­is­ing DIY hor­ti­cul­tural ac­tiv­i­ties; and pro­vid­ing tech­ni­cal guid­ance for home gar­den­ing. Hor­ti­cul­ture teacher Jing Lichao stated: “De­spite the fact that res­i­dents still have rel­a­tively lit­tle ba­sic knowl­edge of hor­ti­cul­ture, we've found dur­ing the teach­ing and guid­ing process that they are ex­tremely en­thu­si­as­tic.” For this rea­son, Jing strives to serve the res­i­dents as a pa­tient and qual­i­fied teacher with five years of train­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, through cour­ses in­clud­ing mi­cro- land­scape pro­duc­tion, minia­ture pot­ted gar­dens and plant land­scap­ing.

As Xicheng Dis­trict's “green mes­sen­gers,” the hor­ti­cul­ture pro­mo­tion cen­tres have made home gar­den­ing part of the lo­cal res­i­dents' lives and pro­moted eco­log­i­cal con­cepts across the whole dis­trict.

Give and Take

When the hor­ti­cul­ture pro­mo­tion cen­tres first ap­peared, many peo­ple had never seen or heard of them, mak­ing pro­mo­tion some­what dif­fi­cult. Although the Gar­den­ing and Green­ing Bureau, sub- dis­tricts and lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties all en­cour­aged res­i­dents to take part in the ac­tiv­i­ties, only a few peo­ple ac­tu­ally did so. The lack of en­thu­si­asm for the hor­ti­cul­ture pro­mo­tion cen­tre was a dif­fi­cult prob­lem to fix at the time.

One year later, the sit­u­a­tion has changed greatly, as a re­sult of pos­i­tive word- of- mouth from the res­i­dents. As the hor­ti­cul­ture pro­mo­tion cen­tre has be­come bet­ter known to the pub­lic, peo­ple have be­come more ac­tive in the var­i­ous ac­tiv­i­ties. Nowa­days, ar­ti­cles posted by the of­fi­cial “Green Xicheng” Wechat ac­count about hor­ti­cul­ture events gen­er­ate a large amount of in­ter­est, with the num­ber of par­tic­i­pants some­times even ex­ceed­ing 100. In the past, many peo­ple did not think much of the cen­tre, but now they are proud of it, with res­i­dents of­ten mak­ing a trip to the cen­tre when­ever they are in need of pro­fes­sional guid­ance on plant cul­ti­va­tion.

Zhong Qing, a trainee at the cen­tre, has be­come a tal­ented gar­dener af­ter study­ing in the hor­ti­cul­ture pro­mo­tion cen­tres. As she ex­plains how­ever, she came across the cen­tre by chance: “In sum­mer 2017, I went to the Xi­dan Joy City shop­ping mall where I spot­ted a lit­tle build­ing next door. The sign out­side read ‘Xicheng Hor­ti­cul­ture Pro­mo­tion Cen­tre.' Since I've al­ways been in­ter­ested in gar­den­ing, I de­cided to go in­side and saw a lot of small, beau­ti­ful green plants. A staff mem­ber ex­plained what the pro­mo­tion cen­tre was do­ing and rec­om­mended I join its Wechat group.”

Zhong learned a lot about gar­den­ing from posts in the Wechat group, strength­en­ing her in­ter­est in hor­ti­cul­ture. Later, she vis­ited the Xi­dan, You'an, Tiantao and Baiguan­glu hor­ti­cul­ture pro­mo­tion cen­tres in her free time, where she has learned flower ar­rang­ing, minia­ture gar­den­ing and veg­etable plant­ing. In the past year, she had the high­est at­ten­dance rate of any stu­dent at each of these hor­ti­cul­ture pro­mo­tion cen­tres.

For Zhong Qing, lec­tures on hor­ti­cul­ture are ex­tremely en­joy­able. She goes to You'an Hor­ti­cul­ture Pro­mo­tion Cen­tre most fre­quently. Niu Yu­jin, the hor­ti­cul­ture teacher there, is a re­tired em­ployee of Bei­jing Flo­ras­cape. Niu is well-known for her pro­fes­sional knowl­edge in a wide range of ar­eas. When speak­ing of Niu, Zhong was full of praise: “Ms. Niu is awe­some. You know, she once served as an ex­pert re­spon­si­ble for the flower ar­range­ments in Tian'an­men Square!” Zhong has been able to learn a lot from Ms. Niu.

The more cour­ses Zhong takes, the more her knowl­edge of hor­ti­cul­ture grows. She ex­plained: “I used to love keep­ing plants such as Scin­dap­sus au­reus and suc­cu­lents at home, be­cause they're easy to cul­ti­vate. All you have to do is wa­ter them. But now things are dif­fer­ent.

I know more about hor­ti­cul­ture, so I can grow plants that need more work.” Zhong's bal­cony has now be­come a mini gar­den, with gera­ni­ums, spi­der plants, minia­ture pot­ted gar­dens, Bar­ba­dos lilies and crab cacti. This sum­mer, Zhong even man­aged to har­vest a bit­ter gourd on her bal­cony that was as big as her head, us­ing the knowl­edge she learned at the hor­ti­cul­ture pro­mo­tion cen­tres. Zhong ex­plained proudly, “I ate it and it was de­li­cious!” Aside from cre­at­ing her own mini gar­den, Zhong has even been in­vited by a friend to their com­pany to teach flower ar­rang­ing to the staff.

How­ever, Zhong's great­est sense of achieve­ment comes from hav­ing been se­lected as a con­tes­tant in the Xicheng Dis­trict Hor­ti­cul­ture Tal­ent Com­pe­ti­tion this year af­ter sev­eral rounds. Although she was not en­tirely sat­is­fied with her re­sult among the many strong op­po­nents, she is nonethe­less happy to re­call the event, say­ing: “I think I didn't do a great job with the plants dur­ing the sec­tion for ar­rang­ing a minia­ture pot­ted gar­den. The win­ner did a good job and theirs had a real sense of depth, which is def­i­nitely a skill worth learn­ing.”

Through the hor­ti­cul­ture pro­mo­tion cen­tre, Zhong now has an­other iden­tity— She is a vol­un­teer in the “Car­ing about Stars Cam­paign.” This cam­paign is de­signed to help chil­dren with autism us­ing hor­ti­cul­tural ther­apy. Zhong said: “I think that learn­ing hor­ti­cul­ture is a re­ally happy thing, and the ac­tiv­i­ties put on by the hor­ti­cul­ture pro­mo­tion cen­tres re­ally do ben­e­fit us res­i­dents.”

Green Liv­ing

Res­i­dents have shown in­creas­ing recog­ni­tion of and par­tic­i­pa­tion in the hor­ti­cul­ture pro­mo­tion cen­tres. Once the fam­ily-hor­ti­cul­ture cam­paign spreads fur­ther, it will play a key role in en­rich­ing peo­ple's eco­log­i­cal and cul­tural lives. How­ever, the con­cept is cur­rently still in its in­fancy, and the ex­ist­ing 24 cen­tres can­not cover the whole of Bei­jing. As such, there is still a long way to go be­fore the whole city can be served.

This is a green cam­paign that aims to ben­e­fit the pub­lic and re­quires a long time-scale and per­sis­tence. In terms of how to carry it out, Chen Changwu stated firmly, “The con­struc­tion of hor­ti­cul­ture pro­mo­tion cen­tres must al­ways serve the grass­roots and the masses, carry out reg­u­lar eco­log­i­cal ser­vices to ben­e­fit the pub­lic, and en­rich their eco­log­i­cal and cul­tural lives.”

Through the use­ful at­tempts of hor­ti­cul­ture pro­mo­tion cen­tres in Xicheng, Haid­ian and Yan­qing, an ad­vanced model has been es­tab­lished for fu­ture con­struc­tion. For ex­am­ple, ide­ally, cen­tres work best when they are around 200 sq.m and can re­ceive around 30 to 50 peo­ple at a time. Chen elab­o­rated: “These are im­por­tant ref­er­ence points. When it comes to the ac­tual im­ple­men­ta­tion, the Bei­jing Gar­den­ing and Green­ing Bureau doesn't im­pose strict reg­u­la­tions on dis­tricts. The con­struc­tion of hor­ti­cul­ture pro­mo­tion cen­tres must be adapted to suit lo­cal con­di­tions and con­form to nat­u­ral con­di­tions.”

The Bei­jing Gar­den­ing and Green­ing Bureau has been ad­vanc­ing the pi­lot con­struc­tion of hor­ti­cul­ture pro­mo­tion cen­tres through­out the city since 2018. On the ba­sis of those al­ready com­pleted, each dis­trict is re­quired to build one or two trial cen­tres to ex­plore new meth­ods. The se­lec­tion of sites ad­heres to the con­cepts of pos­i­tive guid­ance, stim­u­la­tion of vi­tal­ity, self- fundrais­ing and shar­ing. The con­struc­tion of fa­cil­i­ties ad­heres to the con­cepts of low- car­bon op­er­a­tion, sav­ing en­ergy, re­pair and re­ju­ve­na­tion, re­cy­cling waste and unique fa­cil­i­ties. The util­i­sa­tion of space aims to make ef­fec­tive use of un­used spa­ces, or­gan­ise con­ve­nient ac­tiv­i­ties for res­i­dents, carry out lec­tures on the ecol­ogy and DIY ac­tiv­i­ties, and pro­vide other hor­ti­cul­tural ser­vices.

The Bei­jing Gar­den­ing and Green­ing Bureau will strive to build no fewer than 100 hor­ti­cul­ture pro­mo­tion cen­tres across the city within three to five years, with no fewer than 10 per dis­trict. It will push for the cen­tres to cover the en­tire city, ex­plain the con­cept of in­te­grat­ing ecol­ogy, en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion and home life to the pub­lic, and or­gan­ise var­i­ous pro­mo­tional ac­tiv­i­ties re­lated to hor­ti­cul­tural train­ing, hand­i­craft pro­duc­tion and dis­play­ing works, to sub­tly pro­mote a green and eco­log­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion of res­i­dents' life­styles.

In the fu­ture, more res­i­dents will un­doubt­edly learn how to cul­ti­vate plants, mark­ing the ad­vent of greener and higher qual­ity ways of liv­ing. When peo­ple be­come ac­cus­tomed to such a lifestyle, green, eco­log­i­cal con­cepts take root and pro­lif­fer­ate.

Mem­bers take part in a hor­ti­cul­ture class.

A girl learns hor­ti­cul­ture skills at the Rend­inghu Park Hor­ti­cul­ture Cen­tre.

Zhong Qing, an ex­pe­ri­enced flower ar­ranger

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.