WEST LAKE FLOWERS
West Lake not only hosts abundant natural and cultural resources, it also possesses various plant resources. Around the year, all kinds of flowers and plants in West Lake and on surrounding mountains blossom alternatively, which enriches the landscape of plantation around the lake and also significantly improves the environmental quality of the city.
Peach Blossom: On the lake banks and Su and Bai Causeways a large number of willows and peach trees are planted. It is said one willow is accompanied by one peach tree. Other horticultural plants include magnolia, cherry, Confederate rose, etc. The blooming season of peach tree in Hangzhou usually ranges from end of February to middle of April.
Osmanthus: As the city flower, osmanthus is one of representative plants of Hangzhou. Poet Bai Juyi wrote “search osmanthus around the temple on hill in the middle of Autumn”, indicating osmanthus had been cultivated as early as in the Tang dynasty. Osmanthus trees have been massively planted in parks around the lake, and the best-known locations to appreciate are “Sweet Osmanthus Rain at Manjuelong Village”, one of “New Ten Scenes of West Lake”, and Hangzhou Botanical Garden. Osmanthus can be divided into four major species, Thunbergii Group(金桂), Latifolius Group (銀桂), Aurantiacus Group (丹桂) and Fragrans Division (四季桂). Among them, the Thunbergii and Latifolius are the best. Every year around mid-autumn, the sweet-scented osmanthus blossoming is a highlight of tourism in Hangzhou. In addition to its elegant looks, osmanthus is also edible. Thunbergii and Latifolius boast intensive sweet scent, and are natural ingredients for seasoning. Pickled osmanthus blossoms mixed with white sugar became a traditional food of Hangzhou, “Sweet Osmanthus” (糖桂花). West Lake Osmanthus blooming period commences from early September, lasting till early November.
Plum blossom: Lin Bu (林逋), a famous recluse in the Song dynasty, lived on Solitary Hill. His poem Little Plum Blossom of Hill Garden (山園小梅) became the best known poem praising the flower and enriched the cultural contributions of the plum blossoms of West Lake. The opening line of the poem says, “When everything has faded they alone shine forth, encroaching on the charms of smaller gardens” (眾芳搖落獨暄妍，占斷風情向小園). Ling Peak, Solitary Hill and West Creek have long been the three finest spots of plum blossom cherishing in Hangzhou. The flowering season is typically around the Spring Festival, from late January to middle February.
Lotus: Some sites in Hangzhou were named after lotus, such as lotus pond (荷花池頭) and lotus lane (荷花塘弄). There is traditional food called “lotus cake”. The fossil of lotus seeds was unearthed in Kuahuqiao Relic in Xiaoshan, which indicates at least before the Tang dynasty there was cultivated lotus. Yang Wanli of the Song dynasty wrote poem, “Lotus leaves grow to the sky with endless green, lotus blossoms bathed in the sunlight appear especially red. (接天蓮葉無窮碧，映日荷花别样紅), which brought high reputation to the lotus in West Lake. Nowadays, there are 14 lotus cultivation areas in the lake, totally 130 Chinese acres. Most are in “North Inside Lake” and “Yue Lake”. According to statistics, West Lake lotus starts to bloom in early June, and reaches peak blossom time in late June. It can last till late August or early September.
Tulip: The “Prince Bay Park” (太子灣公园) of Hangzhou imported almost all species of tulips from Netherlands in 1992, and held annual tulips exhibition ever since. It has become a new scenic spot on the lake bank. The normal tulips blossom season spans from middle of March to end of April