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February 21, 2011

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Asia's biggest greenhouse

ASIA'S biggest greenhouse with an exhibition of spectacular plants has opened at the Chenshan Botanical Garden in Shanghai's suburban Songjiang District.

The 12,000-square-meter greenhouse contains more than 3,000 species from around the world, including rare and protected plants.

The greenhouse contains three areas: one for rare plants, one for desert plants and one for tropical rainforest plants. The greenhouse saves energy by collecting rainwater to water the plants.

An ipoh tree from the Malay Peninsula is considered the world's most poisonous tree because of its toxic sap that was used for poison blow darts by tribesmen. Several drops can kill an adult if they enter the bloodstream.

A 300-year-old transplanted olive tree is another highlight. It is the oldest of its variety to be grown in a greenhouse.

"It took workers great effort to transport the plants here from their original habitat and was feared that the plants would have problems in transit," says Ma Yun'an, director of the Shanghai Greenery and Public Sanitation Administrative Bureau. The bureau administers the garden and the greenhouse.

Fortunately, all the plants in the greenhouse survived.

Another highlight is the Quarry Garden on the site of an old quarry that operated from the early 1950s to the mid-1980s on Chenshan Hill.

Today a 10,000-square-meter pool fills the quarry that is surrounded by cliffs 30 to 100 meters high.

The garden, which is filled with flowers, features the only waterfall in Shanghai.

A children's garden covering 2.4 acres provides an interactive environment where children of all ages can play, explore the natural world and care for plants.

It also educates kids about the importance of nature conservation.

The garden's soft opening started around six months ago before the spectacular greenhouse was completed.

Shanghai government spent more than 2.1 billion yuan (US$319 million) on the entire garden and the greenhouse project, which was created by Chinese and German designers.

The green space will expand Shanghai's current forest coverage which is around 12 percent and is expected to reach around 15 percent in five years, according to city officials.

How to get there

Take bus No.19 to the garden from Dongjing Station of Metro Line 9, or rent a free bicycle at the Sheshan Station. On weekends and holidays, buses to the garden leave from the downtown Shanghai Sightseeing Bus Center.


The garden provides free wheelchairs and baby carriages. A clinic and lost-and-found service are available at the service center free of charge. The garden has restaurants, convenience stores and shuttle buses.

Open: 8am-5pm, December 1-February 28; 8am-5:30pm, March 1-November 30

Address: 3888 Chenhua Road

Admission: 40 yuan before April 1, 60 yuan afterward.

(Each adult can take a child under 1.3 meters for free; discounts for travel groups.)

For more information, check (Chinese and English).Other gardens to appreciate flowers

? Century Park

Fragrant wintersweet shrubs and trees are in bloom, forming a vast sea of white and yellow flowers. The recent snowfalls have meant a stronger and more vivid bloom this spring.

Date: through March 20

Open: 7am-6pm

Address: 1001 Jinxiu Rd, Pudong

? Zhongshan Park

Azaleas and winter jasmine flowers are putting on a rare simultaneous exhibition - clouds of red, pink, purple and white - through the end of the month. They are part of a show that includes other traditional Chinese flowers. Although the weather is far from warm, experts managed to "force" the blooms artificially, so flowers that naturally bloom at different times are putting on a glorious show at one time.

Date: through February 28

Open: 6am-6pm

Address: 780 Changning Rd


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