After the recent heavy snow fall, Hangzhou city has been blessed with almost-spring like weather. As brilliant sunshine beams onto the ground, winter flowers start to vie with each other for the best in blooming, such as plum blossom and wintersweet (Chimonanthus, a genus of flowering plants endemic to China).
These flowers, which distinguish themselves from other flowers by acting in an unusual way, shrug their way through the normal growing season with only green foliage as ornaments but when chilly winter reaches, they burst into full bloom, filling the garden with a honey-like fragrance.
Lonely Hill (孤山)
Lonely Hill, which is also known as “Plum blossom Islet”, is famous for its ancient poems depicting the unique charm of plum blossoms written by some renowned poets, for instance, Li Shangyin, an eminent poet in Tang Dynasty, mentioned, in one of his verses, the grace and beauty of the plum blossom in this area. The blossoms are some of the best features of Lonely Hill and the hill, surrounded by an emerald-green lake, enhances the glamour of such a beautiful species.
Looking for plum blossom in Lonely Hill is like a game of hide and seek, as the plants are scattered all around the hill you may find some in one place and come across a few in another. Crane Pavilion and sitting statue of Lu Xun are apt locations when they are surrounded by different species of plum blossom with very poetic names.
Hangzhou Botanical Garden (杭州植物园)
In previous years, wintersweet bloomed sporadically at the end of November but, as introduced by a botanical expert in the garden, due to the mild weather in early winter this year, the flowers delayed their arrival date and decided to land in the middle of December. At present, 12 species of wintersweet, a total of 1200 individuals, are blooming vigorously in Hangzhou Botanical Garden.
Wintersweet, which continues to bloom from December to late January, stand the test of time, as most of the other plants wither and fade in winter, so now is the best period to witness the wonder made by this marvellous plant.