In China these days, there is much talk of the flowers of the season. Pale pink cherry blossoms are opening in pockets of central China and Yunnan, actually the ancient place of origin of the esteemed bloom. But eastern China is maybe the best for spring flower viewing, especially in the jiangnan (江南) region, south of the Yangtze River.
Du Mu wrote over a thousand years ago:
A thousand miles of orioles crying, red among the green
Along the village shore and city wall, wine banners wave in the breeze
Four hundred and eighty temples of the southern court
How many towers hidden in the mist and rain
We’ve just returned from Qingming Festival in Hangzhou, part of the jiangnan region, where we saw so many of these ancient images painted before us. Peach blossoms in fiery pink, the pale plum blossom in early spring, the wild orchid in secret watery groves. Delicate young shades of spring green cascade through the landscape, in a way we miss in Shenzhen where it’s green all year.
Qingming is a traditional time to behold springtime flowers, but the jiangnan will be in bloom through April and May, so a trip to one of the area’s cities will be especially vibrant during this season. The May 1 holiday is one upcoming three day weekend, which could make a lovely time to visit this region. Hangzhou, the former capital Nanjing, Suzhou, and Yangzhou will all hold classical scenes as in the poems, and be dressed in beautiful blooms throughout these months. Here’s a great guide to flower viewing in Hangzhou.