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Shanghai is in flower

THIS is peak-viewing season for clouds of cherry blossoms and a heady bouquet of other flowers citywide. Take in the annual flower show, adopt an ancient peony tree or trip out on flowers in the suburbs. Kat Jiang reports.

Pink-and-white cherry blossoms seem to float in the air for a brief, precious period before the leaves come out, sometimes just for a week or so. This is peak-viewing season and there are charming spots where you can savor sakura.

The Shanghai Botanical Garden features a month of "rolling" cherry blossoms, with different varieties blooming in succession.

Office lady Selie Zhuang, 24, has been captivated by cherry blossoms ever since she read Japanese manga and watched Japanese TV dramas in high school.

"The flower shows the fragility of beauty and the transience of life," she enthuses. "I love to lie down under the cherry trees in springtime, and this frees me from the pressures of daily life."

Quiet Qinghai Road next to the Shanghai TV Station (between Nanjing Road W. and Weihai Road) is one of the first places where cherry trees were planted to cheer pedestrians.

Luxun Park in Hongkou District has a grove of cherry blossoms at the back gate. Renowned author Lu Xun studied in Japan in the early 1900s and frequently wrote of cherry blossoms.

As the Japanese saying goes, "Sakura in seven days," cherry blossoms appear and then drop usually within a week before the leaves come out.

But those in the Shanghai Botanical Garden will last for a month because different cherry species have different blooming periods.

Shanghai Botanical Garden's early sakura falls from late March to early April. You can still catch them. Then double-petal blossoms take their place early this month. There are also rare pale green cherry blossoms.

To symbolize Sino-Japanese friendship, 120 cherry trees were planted last month in Daning Lingshi Park in Zhabei District. Yanzhong Green Park also has a grove of cherry trees.

Universities are another place for blossoms. Tongji University is known for its "cherry blossom boulevard" in the southern campus. Not far away, Fudan University students walk beneath blossoms in Xiyuan Garden in its northern campus.

Other flowers

? Guyi Garden

Guyi Garden in Jiading District, the city's biggest classical garden, was built in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) nearly 500 years ago. Some ancient trees bear as many as 65 flowers.

Petals fall in mid-April.

The garden offers a peony party through May 3, offering a photo and painting exhibit titled the "King of Flowers."

Two ancient peony trees are awaiting adoption, each costing 3,000 yuan (US$428) for a year. The garden features various kinds of bamboo and the famous Nanxiang xiaolongbao snack.

Address: 218 Huyi Rd, Nanxiang Town, Jiading District

Tel: 5912-2225

Admission: 12 yuan

? Gongqing Forest Park

The heavily forested park holds its annual flower show through June 1. Hundreds of different flowers blossom in turn, including the Chinese rose, chrysanthemums, peonies, lilies and tulips.

The park has around 220,000 tulips of 200 species.

Address: 2000 Jungong Rd

Tel: 6574-0586

Admission: 15 yuan

? Shanghai Botanical Garden

The 2009 Shanghai Flower Show kicks off today at the Shanghai Botanical Gardens, with more than 3,000 varieties. Most exhibitions are World Expo-themed, such as "The Home of Haibao" (Expo mascot).

Visitors can vote for the flowers they would like to see in the Expo 2010.

The show features latest techniques in hydroponics - cultivating plants in a nutrient solution instead of soil. They will be featured in Expo decorations.

Address: 1111 Longwu Rd, near Baise Rd

Tel: 5435-512

Admission: 15 yuan

? Century Park

Though the annual plum blossom exhibition is ending, more flowers are blooming. Purple orchids, golden rape flowers and pink cherry blossom cover 6,000 square meters. There's no fencing, so you can wade in.

Address: 1001 Jinxiu Rd, Pudong

Tel: 3876-0588

Admission: 10 yuan

Flower routes

The Shanghai Sightseeing Bus Center offers more than 150 routes to the suburbs and nearby cities for the three-day Qingming Festival (the tomb-sweeping day, tomorrow).

There are 14 flower routes in short trips. There's a peach blossom trip to Nanhui District, a rape flower trip to Fengxian District, a cherry blossom trip to Yuantouzhu of Wuxi City and a peony trip to Shanghu Lake in Changshu City, both in Jiangsu Province.

The bus center offers comfortable air-conditioned buses. More than half the routes cost less than 100 yuan; meals are not included.

There are five branches and tickets can be booked online or by telephone. Ticket express service is offered downtown.

Hotline: 6426-5555 (English service provided)

Website: /

Shanghai Sightseeing Bus Center (main branch)

Address: 666 Tianyaoqiao Rd, by Zhongshan Rd S2

Tel: 6426-5555

Shanghai Sightseeing Bus Center (Hongkou branch)

Address: No. 2 Gate of Hongkou Football Stadium, 444 Dongjiangwan Rd

Tel: 5696-3248

Shanghai Sightseeing Bus Center (Xuhui branch)

Address: 666 Shilong Rd, by Liuzhou Rd

Tel: 5436-3617

Shanghai Sightseeing Bus Center (Yangpu branch)

Address: Yangpu Sports Center, 640 Longchang Rd

Tel: 6580-3210

Shanghai Sightseeing Bus Center (Zhabei branch)

Address: 2266 Gonghexin Rd, by Guangzhong Rd

Tel: 5665-9121


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