In light of the early blooms brought about by the climate changes this year, the 2014 Yangmingshan Flower Season will kick off on January 29 and last through March 9.
The unexpected interchanges between cold fronts and mild weather brought about an early start to the cherry blossom season, followed by blooming season for other flowers in the park area such as azaleass, rhododendrons, hydrangeas, viburnums, and euscaphis.
So begins the online article on the Taipei City website talking about the annual Yangmingshan Flower Festival. I copied it verbatim into my blog both because it describes what it is happening, and because it shows a government recognizing climate change and then changing the dates of an annual event to adjust to the current climate reality.
Jeff and I decided to go up to Yangmingshan to see the flowers on Sunday even though the weather was cold and drizzly. We were both going to be headed back to the US in another week, so this would be our only chance to see the flowers this year. We dressed warmly and caught the bus to go up to Yangmingshan. (Yes, that means I was dressed like a panda again! It is a very warm vest!)
The Zhuzihu valley in Yangmingshan is where there are lots of calla lily farms.The rainy and damp weather in the high-altitude Zhuzihu valley provides an ideal environment for the cultivation of calla lilies. There are more than 45 calla lily farms in the area. It was suggested to us that this area of Yangmingshan would have lots of blossoming cherry trees. It did not, but it is still a lovely place to walk around, and so we spent some time there in the Zhuzihu valley.
The lilies were just starting to bloom. The Calla Lily Festival does not begin until mid March, but the lilies are also starting to bloom earlier, like the other flowers in Yangmingshan.
Zhuzihu Valley was very pretty, even in the gloomy weather. And most of the flower seeking visitors were elsewhere in Yangmingshan, so it was also peaceful and not crowded.
There were many large, beautiful ferns growing alongside this stream. They were appreciating the wet, cool weather, even if we weren’t!
The other notable thing that Zhuzihu Valley has is local farm stands and restaurants offering good things to eat. Vending machines and Asian and western fast food outlets are available elsewhere in Yangmingshan, but the only really good food that I have eaten here is in Zhuzihu Valley.
This time, I got delicious strawberry guavas and kumquats coated with ginger from a farm stand selling fruit in Zhuzihu valley. Yum! Everything I sampled in the farm stand was delicious, but I kept in mind that anything I bought I would have to carry around all day, so I limited myself to two types of fruit.
We also got a fresh scallion pancake from another nearby vendor. This vendor was also selling specialty steam buns. I tried one of the cheese and chocolate chip steam buns. It was an interesting combination of flavors.
As we were getting ready to leave the Zhuzihu Valley, this group of teenage girls asked me to pose in a photo with them. And they gave me a calla lily! I had decided not to pick any calla lilies to take home because I knew that we would be walking around in the park all day, and I was worried that any lilies that I picked would not survive until we got home. But I carried this calla lily around all day, and it didn’t get put into a glass of water until around 6 pm that evening. And it survived just fine, and still looked beautiful when I left for the US on February 23!
We left the Zhuzihu Valley by bus, and headed to the Yangming Park section of Yangmingshan in search of blossoming cherry trees. We knew that we were in the right place this time when we got off the bus because of the crowds of people everywhere. There were even (sigh) busloads of mainland Chinese tourists. So it was noisy and fairly chaotic.
Perhaps one of the most distinctive features in the Yangming Park section of Yangmingshan is the “Flower Clock,” which is composed of a variety of seasonal flowers. Usually, it is more colorful than in the above photo. This time of the year, it still had its winter season flowers, which were purple and white ornamental cabbages. We just took a few photos here, and then headed into the park, hoping to get away from some of the crowds.
Yangming Park is the garden within Yangmingshan National Park. During flower season in the spring, cherry, azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias, and peach trees bloom in Yangming Park. I did not see any peach blossoms while we were there, but there were azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias, and yes, plenty of cherry trees blooming in Yangming Park.
There is a small trail heading up a hill with a pavilion on top of it in Yangming Park.We decided to to take it. Sure enough, we left the crowds behind, as most of them did not want to climb up even a small hill. When we got to the pavilion at the top of the hill, it had stopped drizzling, and the clouds were blowing away. We had a great view of Mt. Qixing and some of the other Yangmingshan peaks. And there were many cherry trees in blossom around the pavilion.
We took a different trail down from the pavilion, and found lots more cherry trees in bloom. This was definitely a win-win situation, as there were lots of beautiful blooming trees along this trail and no other tourists!
We walked back to the parking lot near the flower clock. The parking lot was not available to park cars, as they were using it to display sculptures and flowers. The sculptures were the latest works by sculptor A-sun Wu, including “Family Tree” (created from the remains of seven camphor trees) and “Mother Earth” (created from fossilized tree trunk dating back 60 million years.
I liked the cow sculptures, so we had someone take our photo standing in front of them. Notice that I am still holding the calla lily in my hand.
It took us a while to get home because we spent a long time waiting for the bus to take us back to NeiHu. Our bus, number 681, was over an hour late because it was stuck in traffic trying to get up into the park. I guess that many people decided to come up and see the blossoms once it stopped raining in the afternoon!