The International Horticultural Exposition, Xi’an, Shaanxi, China

Article #1:

Xi’an Expo: antique and modern

[reference : China Daily | Xi’an Special;  Lu Hongyan, 29 April 2011]

xian-flowing gardens

The Flowing Gardens @ the International Horticultural Expo, Xi’an
designed by London-based Plasma Studio
(photo from:

<< The International Horticultural Exposition (Apr 28-Oct 22) is getting its third China experience this year, in the Chan-ba Ecological District of Xi’an, Shaanxi province
(Previous ones included the 2006 Shenyang Expo and the 1999 Kunming Expo.)

Xi’an is the oldest of the Chinese capitals so it has plenty of historic treasures, the terra cotta warriors, for example, but its natural beauty has been underrated.

It is located near the Qinling Mountains, which have diverse fauna and flora, and four of their treasures (the panda, golden monkey, crested ibis and takin) will be used to represent Xi’an’s nature and environment.

Over the past few years, Xi’an has paid greater attention to environment protection as evidenced by the expo slogan, “Green Leading the Trend”, and 45 per cent of its is covered by forest.

And its citizens now can expect a blue sky more than 300 days out of the year, compared with 175, back in 2002.
(Kaifeng Garden is one of the most popular sites for both Chinese and foreign visitors.)

The expo focuses on natural beauty in a cultural context, with the ideas of peace and harmony between nature and mankind and nurturing the earth – a natural city, co-existing in peace.

The expo site covers a 418-hectare area, and is expected to receive 12 million visitors over is 178 days.

Some of its highlights are four landmarks, four special gardens, and nine master gardens.

Every architectural element is expected to blend with the environment and the buildings are meant to flatter rather than challenge the local terrain. Pathways are interwoven and heritage comes with the latest advances in green technology.

The expo’s emblem and mascot reflect this spirit. The emblem is the Chang’an flower, whose name comes from a line of poetry, “Riding the crest of success, seeing all the flowers of Chang’an.” It consists of four layers of petals, containing three, four, five and six petals, from the inner to the outer.

Its meaning is: three, for the seeds of nature, contained in an auspicious flower; four, for the corners of the earth, holding up the vault of heaven; five, for the foliage of trees, shielding the land; and six, for running water, which nurtures life.

xian-horticultural-exhibition-2011-plasmastudio51The Flowing Gardens @ the International Horticultural Expo, Xi’an
designed by London-based Plasma Studio


418 hectares

covered by Guangyun Lake,
a part of the Chan-ba Ecological District of Xi’an

178 days

packed full of excitement for the 2011
Xi’an International Horticultural Exposition

45 per cent

of Xi’an covered by forest, an indication of the amount of work
that has gone into environment protection,
hence the expo’s slogan “Green Leading the Trend”

The mascot is an animated cartoon character, cheerful and lovely. It draws its inspiration from the city’s plant, the pomegranate. It will greet visitors from home and abroad.

A visit to the Xi’an International Horticultural Expo will be a refreshing and enriching experience. It provides a contrast of antiquity and modernity, man-made wonders with natural beauty, and technological advances with classical wisdom.

A walk around the site is a rare opportunity to appreciate natural beauty and human endeavour, a chance to contemplate the past and the future or reflect on the relationship of spirituality and physical existence.

The tickets are an affordable level, with an off-holiday price of 100 yuan, and a national holiday price of 150 yuan.

One perk with the expo ticket is the discounted admission fee for 144 neighbouring tourist attractions for the duration of the expo. >>

Article #2:

Traditional Shaanxi takes on a
new look

[reference : China Daily | Xi’an Special; Lu Hongyan, 29 April 2011]

International_Horticultural_Exposition_2011-night scene

The Guangyun Lake at night @ the International Horticultural Expo, Xi’an

<< For those of you who are still thinking of last year’s fascinating Shanghai World Expo experience or who regret missing it, there’s good news.

The Xi’an International Horticultural Expo, running from April 28 to Oct 22, provides another chance to take in an awe-inspiring, breath-taking experience.

While the Shanghai expo presented technological gems from all over the world, the Xi’an expo provides a rare look at nature’s own gems, combined with human ingenuity.

It is located in the Chan-ba Ecological District in north-eastern Xi’an, on a 418-hectare space, about two-fifths of which is water.

Its basic composition can be described as two circles, two axes, and five nodes.

The two circles are a primary one containing most of the gardens and parks and a secondary one with auxiliary facilities.

The two axes are a main north-south axis and a secondary east-west one. The five “nodes” refers to five parks on the expo site with the names Chang’an, Creativity, Five Continents, Poly-tech, and Experience.

The expo’s various examples of architecture include the following:

A ) Four Landmarks

These are the Chang’an Tower, the Guangyun Entrance, the Pavilion, and the Greenhouse. They are a must-see and express the expo’s combination of modern technology and national heritage.

xian-changan tower

The Chang’an Tower at night @ the International Horticultural Expo, Xi’an

      1. The Chang’an Tower, which sits on a hill, offers a vantage point from which to appreciate the site’s beauty. It pays tribute to the classical Tang tower while incorporating modern elements.
      2. The Guangyun Entrance introduces visitors to the expo’s 60-metre wide avenue bordered by water and dotted with trees and flowerbeds.
      3. The Pavilion sits on the north-south axis and contains the latest in horticultural technology and achievements.
      4. The Greenhouse holds rare plants from different parts and climate zones around the world.

B ) Nine Master Gardens

This is the work of nine prominent architects, dome especially for the expo and expressing the inclusiveness of traditional Chinese culture.

      1. The Quadrangle, designed by a Chinese architect, takes its inspiration from the traditional Chinese courtyard and is intended to give visitors a serene view of a Chinese garden.
      2. The Loess Garden shows the Danish architect’s view of Chinese culture, using clay to symbolize the basis of Xi’an’s prosperity.
      3. The Labyrinth is a bold attempt by an American architect to explore American culture within the context of Chinese architecture.
      4. The Landscape and Chinese Map are meant to be a correlation of Chinese landscape painting and horticultural art. The French architect wanted a vivid, yet natural Chinese map.
      5. The Digging Garden reflects the German architect’s childhood dream of digging down all the way through the earth, to China.
      6. The Passage, by an Austrian architect, is a romantic, small garden that tracks the passage of time as if it were a sonnet.
      7. The Botanist demonstrates the British architect’s attempt to show the diverse flora of the Qinling Mountains in a harmonious environment.
      8. The Bridges tells the story of a journey of humans through life and across the bridges over the river of melancholy.  The Dutch designer wanted to depict life as a continuous, winding path.
      9. The Labyrinth of Mountainous Paths reflects the Spanish architect’s effort to combine Chinese landscape painting, the vibrant colours of an oil painting, and concepts of the modern deconstructionist thought.

C ) Four Feature Parks

      1. The Bonsai Park contains a display of Xi’an’s many plants. The careful arrangement of trails, stones, trees and plants expresses Chinese bonsai art, and conveys a sense of tranquillity.
      2. Qinling is intended to express the scenery and culture of the Qinling Mountains. The stones with poems engraved, the four treasures of the Qinling Mountains (golden monkey, panda, crested ibis and takin), and the rare plants express a harmony between nature and culture.
      3. Chang’an is dedicated to the unique culture of Shaanxi and has a theme of “interpreting new green, ecological, Chinese styles”. Its culture is one of bamboo, herbal medicines, and plants in the same space, an integration of traditional Shaanxi culture and more recent achievements.
      4. Landscape and Poetic Chang’an is meant to recreate poetic expression and the beautiful botanical gardens descried in China’s Book of Songs.

These sites highlighted above, will guarantee that a visit to the expo will be a nourishing and refreshing experience. In no other place can the clever integration of nature’s beauty and human endeavour be seen, and rarely is such a vantage point available so that people can appreciate traditional Shaanxi culture in such a modern context. >>

Article #3:

Mesmerizing experience has people coming back

[reference : China Daily | Xi’an Special; Lu Hongyan, 29 April 2011]

xian-intl horticultural expo

The International Horticultural Expo, Xi’an

<< Xi’an, the capital of Shaanxi province, out in central China, was known as Chang’an, back before the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It has served as the capital of 13 dynasties, from the Zhou (c. 11th century-256BC) to the Qin (221-206BC), Han (220BC-AD220), Sui (AD581-618), and Tang (AD618-907).

But being the capital of various dynasties is not the city’s only claim to historic significance. It was also the starting (or end) point of the Silk Road, the transcontinental route that linked China in the East with the Roman Empire in the West. Xi’an was, thus, one of the world’s earliest metropolitan areas.

Evidence of this can be seen among the antiquities in the Shaanxi History Museum, where many Han and Tang items give a sign of immense cultural exchanges.

Xi’an was at the zenith of prosperity during the Tang’s Tianbo period, a time of political stability and flourishing trade. Academics, students, traders and merchants from all over visited Xi’an, contributing to its diverse culture.

Traces of Tang glories can be found in the Huaqing Palace, a grand gathering of buildings and gardens on Li Mountain.

Another testament to Tang glory is the Daming Palace ruins. The original structure may have been destroyed, but the palace still conveys a sense of magnificence and splendour.
(Landscape at the Nature Pavilion is as attractive as a painting.)

The Ming was the last dynasty to have its capital in Xi’an. To savour the Ming style, a good place to start is the Bell Tower. It stands in the centre of the city and offers a place from which to view the city centre. Nearby, to the west, is the Drum Tower.

Four prosperous streets stretch out east, west, south and north from the Bell Tower. In the evening, the two towers are illuminated, and stand in fascinating contrast to the surrounding commercial structures.

As the bell tolls, the casual visitor might experience a temporary confusion of time and place.

Close by the Drum Tower is Muslim Street, a good place to savour Xi’an’s culinary specialties. Its cuisine is quintessentially north-western Chinese food and visitors would be well-advised to try Xi’an’s most famous dishes: the pancake, the mutton soup, which can be spicy, and the handmade noodles, which come in various flavours, shapes and sizes.

Xi’an’s history has shaped its culture. For example, it is the cradle of China’s oldest opera, the Qinqiang, which is characterised by high-pitched, emotional performances. Xi’an’s art and style reflect the environment and character of Shaanxi.

Another cultural phenomenon is the shadow puppetry. Colourful puppets interpret the various stages of life against a white curtain, manipulated by artists backstage, who also provide the voices.

This combination of sound and image is the earliest precursor of the cinema, an art form that testifies to the artistic achievements of classical Shaanxi.

Now, that historical ebb and flow is long gone, replaced by a modern, thriving city. But, the traces of that long history cannot be erased even from the urban landscape. And, the visitors can expect to savour the heritage and unique culture, while enjoying the convenience of modern life.

Xi’an is a perfect example of modernity blending well with history, and offering a mesmerizing experience that keeps people coming back for more. >>

Nerd smile  My thoughts and words

What an amazing creation – I’d love to get the chance to visit.  I’ve always wanted to visit Xi’an, but heard it would need a very specific visit, being off the usual ‘tourist’ routes through China.

I’d distinctly heard and been aware of Chinese architecture being a momentous break-through in world science, but it was too large for me to comprehensively grasp and understand. 

However, I was exposed to a selection of miniaturised replicas of Chinese architectural monasteries throughout history, as well as aspects of modular struts and roofs in architectural detail, at a display located at ‘Nan Lian Garden’ (南蓮园池), Diamond Hill, Kowloon. 

More recently the ‘Nan Lian Garden’ jointly-hosted, with the ‘Chi Lin Nunnery’, a Bamboo Carving exhibition by the artist Cheung Pak Yue, named ‘Celebrating Nature Through Art’( (


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