Expanding community interest in gardening through educational activities.

Far Reaches China, Report #3

image002 We have arrived in Taiwan today after finishing up in China.  We had essentially a tourist day in the incredible Huangshan Geopark in Anhui which is China’s Yosemite but perhaps even more so.  We were on the gondola heading up the mountain at 8am on a Tuesday morning and already it was teeming with Chinese tourists as well as the only Westerners we saw during our China leg.  The views were incredible, the granitic mountains amazing, the famous pines justifiably so and the beauty marred only by multiple amplified tour guides on loudspeakers and the jostle and thrum of the multitude.  And this was an early morning off weekday in the off season – what must peak season be like?  We could only imagine the color of a few weeks earlier with sheets of Enkianthus chinensis filling the ravines and the locus classicus Rhododendron anwheiense forming evergreen shrubs beneath.  We wandered for hours along but mostly up and down a labyrinth of mortared stone paths to stunning viewpoint after stunning viewpoint.  The pressure of himage005umanity was setting all of our nerves on edge and we opted to walk down the mountain to the distant parking lot following a long downhill path in hopes of avoiding the crush and finding a little peace among the plants.  We let go of that notion soon enough!  People everywhere and usually at quite some volume.

The next day we drove to Zhejiang Province and explored a small mountain that is home to what is thought be ancient wild Ginkgo trees – they were impressive – as well as massive Cryptomeria evoking California Redwoods including extraordinarily rare old growth Pseudolarix amabilis of which these few trees of this Asian Larch are likely the last old growth examples in the world.  The long straight trunks of these impressive specimens with their open branching habit looking like an Asian landscape scroll were reverential.  The bark had divided into symmetrical plates like a mudflat drying in the sun and we all agreed this was one of those botanical moments which punctuate our lives.  A few interesting herbaceous plants such as Podophyllum pleianthum and a very handsome Liriope helped round out the day.  The last full day was quite rainy and we headed into the immense city of Hangzhou prior to departing for Taiwan the next morning.  We spent several hours prowling the Hangzhou Botanic Garden which was quite good although we lamented the general lack of labels although many of the trees were labeled but it did seem as though the ones we were most curious about had no identification.  Beautiful examples of that confusing jumble of broadleaf evergreen shrubs and trees from temperate to subtropic zones.  Wed were all getting a bit headachy towards the end from data overload!

Out in the field again tomorrow.  Pretty sure Kelly has cracked something in the rib arena from his fall a week ago but has not prevented any field work.  In fact, he is getting used to Sue carrying the heavy pack and lugging the luggage about!  Nearly 9pm and a lot of collection work still to be done tonight.

We’ll keep you posted!
Kelly & Sue