On November 20, 2010, with the last ground tile laid and washed clean by the construction workers, the main work of the Chengdu Park at the site of the International Horticultural Exposition 2011 Xi’an China (the Xi’an Int’l Horticultural Expo 2011, to be held from April 28, 2011 to October 22, 2011) was completed. After a few final touches, including the arrangement of seasonal flowers and potted landscapes, the showcase of the horticultural splendors of Chengdu, capital of Southwest China’s Sichuan Province, which is home to one of the largest natural habitat of the Giant Panda, will be finished and launched.
The construction of the Chengdu Garden is a process marked by speed and fine professionalism: Within a little over two months after the construction work started in mid-August this year, all the landscape features, planting of flowers and tress and environment conditioning of the garden had been completed. However, in order to present the garden to the visitors in its best possible shape, the contractors and constructors have checked and reexamined each construction procedure since the end of October, striving for perfection without neglecting any detail in the garden.
Traditional Lanes and Walled Architecture: Condensing the Sichuan Folk Culture
With the theme of “A Garden of Harmony, A Land of Abundance”, the Chengdu Garden of the Xi’an Int’l Horticultural Expo 2011 is in the traditional design, in which all landscape units are arranged symmetrically along the central axis. All the landscape units in the garden, all built with environment-friendly materials, as well as their styles and concepts, originate from the unique buildings, folk dwellings, cultural relics, and gardening culture on the Western Sichuan Plains. The “Deep Sichuan-style Lanes and Tower Reflected on a Flowery Creek” on the central axis, the “Exquisite Landscape Wall, Deep Bamboo Groves and Sichuan Flower Garden” and other landscape blocks on either side of the axis, jointly take on a wonderful picture combining the fine cultural tradition and dazzling modern wonders of Sichuan, a land of abundance since ancient times, in its best form, fullest content and most inspiring spirit, featuring man and all other creatures living side by side in harmony.
Stepping into the Chengdu Garden, visitors will be impressed by the striking Sichuan-style folk dwellings: The doors and walls of the Garden are modeled on the traditional courtyard dwellings of Sichuan and are built with small blue bricks, with the hollow parts decorated with fences braided by branches of Ligustrum Quihoui. The walls of the Garden, which combine blue brick walls and fences of plant branches and twigs, not only convey the plain and elegant characteristic of the local culture of Sichuan, but also consist with the modern trend toward the “green” and healthy living environment.
To bring more viewing interest and a perspective effect into the Garden, two landscape walls of blue bricks embedded with glass reliefs are erected on either side of the axis of the garden. Patterns on the two walls are highly significant: Those depicted water flows symbolize that the Land of Abundance, Sichuan, literally “a land of four rivers” in Chinese, owes its brilliance to the Mother Rivers; the patterns of lovely pandas are intended to highlight the good natural environment in Sichuan; while the patterns of blooming hibiscus echo the origin of the poetic courtesy name of Chengdu, Rongcheng, which literally means “the City of Hibiscus” in Chinese.
Tower on the Flowery Creek: Savoring the Cultural Tradition of Chengdu
In Huaxiba, Chengdu, there is a landmark structure, the Huaxi Clock Tower, which was designed by Fred Rowntree, a famous British architect, and was completed in the year 1925. The clock tower, which combines the splendor of traditional Chinese temples and the functionality of Western towers, is one of the most prominent works in the style of the “Chinese-style New Architecture”, a result of the movement to adapt Western learning to the Chinese culture in the 1920s and 1930s.
In honor of the masterpiece integrating the best of Western and Traditional Chinese architectures, there is also a 10-meter tall tower modeled on the one in Huaxiba, which echoes the Chang’an Tower, landmark of the Xi’an Int’l Horticultural Expo 2011. The patterns of Sun God Birds in flight on the walls of the tower demonstrate to the visitors the ancient and mysterious Jinsha Culture, a unique, sophisticated yet little-known ancient culture whose relics were first unearthed in Chengdu several years ago; while the glass reliefs on the wall depict the fast-paced life style of Chengdu, a modern metropolis in western China.
The tower and the gate of the Garden are connected by a flowery creek formed by flower belts of various colors. The stone bridge spanning the creek not only connects the two banks of the creek, but also links the past and present of the City and the Ancient Chinese Civilization and Western Culture, highlighting the time-honored and unbroken passing of the cultural tradition of Chengdu.
Sichuan Potted Landscape: Essence of the Sichuan Horticulture
All unique plant species in the Chengdu Garden, including begonia, hibiscus, camellia, azalea, laurel, and radix asparagi, are transplanted from Chengdu. When the weather gets warm next year, other plant varieties unique in Sichuan, including Longdan bamboo, fernleaf hedge bamboo, Tianzhu bamboo, golden bamboo (phyllostachys aurea), Mianzhu bamboo and sinocalamus beecheyanus, will be added to the Chengdu Garden, which will not only enhance the attractiveness of the Garden, but also will better display the peaceful and quiet lifestyle on the western plains of Sichuan where the bamboo thrives.
Sichuan-style potted landscape, as one of the four schools of traditional Chinese spotted landscapes, is a time-honored branch of horticulture. To provide the visitors with a visual feast of the best of Sichuan-style landscaping, a number of Sichuan bamboo and tree potted landscapes will be transferred to the Chengdu Garden next year. Those masterpieces of miniature landscaping, some of which are quiet and elegant, some magnificent and towering and some seemingly precipitous and forbidding, are “three-dimensional poems and soundless pictures” for the visitors to appreciate at leisure next year during the Expo.
Another highlight in the Chengdu Garden is a five-meter plant sculpture modeled on the terra cotta figure of a drum-beating story-teller dating back to the Eastern Dynasty (25 A.D. to 220 A.D.), which was unearthed in Tianhui Town of Chengdu. The plant sculpture, which integrates humanities and the horticulture, vividly captures the dramatic expression and gesture of the ancient story-teller who seems to be narrating the brilliant past of Sichuan and praising the bright future of the Land of Abundance.