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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Gardening in Shanghai

"...(A)n escape from Shànghăi's 上海 synthetic cityscape." That description of the Shanghai Botanical Gardens 上海植物园 from Lonely Planet's Shanghai city guide is an apt one. Located in a part of the city far removed from the glitz and sophistication of the Bund and the French Concession, the 202 acres (81.86 hectares) that encompass the gardens offer a pleasant respite from the noise and grime of this city of 23 million. There are opportunities for catching flying insects with a butterfly net, riding a scooter, playing catch with a glove and ball or tossing a Frisbee around - activities for which we have the necessary implements with us here in Shanghai, and none of which we remembered to bring along with us today in the car. Oh,, well, there's always another time...

From the northern entrance to the gardens, the first thing you encounter (after the souvenir stands and toilets) is a temple dating from 1728. 

The temple is a memorial to one Huáng Dàopó 黄道婆, a woman originally from Hăinán Island 海南岛 credited with introducing cotton spinning to Shanghai beginning in the late 13th century.

The grounds are surprisingly huge. A thorough exploration would take the better part of a day.

Foam-and-metal dinosaurs, insects and jungle animals added the necessary "WTF?" element that every landscaped garden needs to make itself complete. 

With our usual impeccable timing, we showed up at the particular time of the year when none of the flowers the Botanical Gardens are noted for were in bloom. No matter- my aging Nikon proved itself unable to take any decent close-up shots. 

A typhoon approaching to the south of Shanghai lowered the temperature considerably this afternoon, but my daughter still persuaded me that an ice cream cone was in order.

Random garden imagery...

For Amber and me, the highlight of our visit was going inside the Tropicarium, a large greenhouse filled with tropical plants.

An elevator slowly took us up six stories for a view of the gardens outside...

...and of the Tropicarium inside.

The Shanghai Botanical Gardens may be worth a return visit when there are blooming flowers to be seen...and with proper recreational equipment in tow.

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