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Ravisha and her husband

Take off your shoes and sink your toes into the green grass. The world is a beautiful place, filled with a myriad of natural wonders. With our hectic work and social schedules, we appreciate nature only on the internet.

On one such day, I visited the South China Botanical Garden in Guangzhou with my husband. We entered from the west gate which was surprisingly isolated. We picked up the map and started navigating through this enchanting place. It is one of the largest gardens in China covering an area of 1,155 hectares, with a history of over 90 years. There were carts at scheduled times between various theme gardens. Bikes for up to four people were available on rent. We chose to walk to properly survey the fantastic landscape of the botanical garden.

South China Botanical Garden is a tranquil and quiet place to relax and unwind, take a leisurely stroll along narrow and meandering pathways and also enjoy the pristine landscape and glasshouses. This shady heaven was perfect for my yoga session. I have never felt so much peace and serenity before in Guangzhou.

We guided ourselves to the Energy Plant Garden. At the entrance was an exquisite plant which carried out photosynthesis with its green branches. This area boasted a number of tree houses that provide places for modern tourists to relax and rest their feet. As we made our way to the Neolithic site, we saw the first signs of human life around us – what a coincidence!

Energy Plant Garden

"Guangzhou's Oldest Village" has been rebuilt on the Neolithic site, which was the birthplace of the people of Guangzhou. The display presents the lifestyle of Cantonese ancestors and their harmonious relationship with nature. On the hillside around the village, "Zonal Vegetation Garden" showed the typical subtropical evergreen forest and native species. There was a ruins appreciation and protection site, sculptures, reproductions of a primitive village and an archaeological site. We relaxed in the primitive "tree houses" to experience life in primitive times. We hopped on to the stone path laid across the pond to reach the centre to catch views of the entire Neolithic site. Two fallen trees had been converted into a beautiful bridge. Art is indeed in nature!

There were gorgeous waterfalls with fantastic architecture on the way to the conservatory. This is one of the most popular and crowded spots in the garden with many couples posing for photographs. Narrow pathways were constructed around rectangular areas in the Aquatic Plant Garden in order to enable visitors to have a closer look at different varieties of lotuses and Flower City 53 water lilies. This area also had my favourite "Touchme- not" plant which closes its leaves on touching, warming, blowing, or shaking.

The most breath-taking aspect of botanic garden was the conservatory. The four conservatories, Tropical Rainforest Conservatory, Desert Plant Conservatory, Alpine & Polar Plant Conservatory, and Exotic Plant & Aqua-foraest Aquariums Conservatory, along with the surrounding savannah, create a spectacular landscape entitled "A World of Plants." The conservatories covered a total area of 75,000 sq. meter and conserved more than 3,500 plant species. This landmark structure is the largest conservatory group in Asia and may be even all over the world. It was so huge that my eyes kept moving to capture the exciting and numerous installations.

Tropical Rainforest Conservatory

The Desert Plant Conservatory presented the magnificent desert landscape of Africa, America, Australia and western China. It was the most exotic collection of cacti, succulents, grasses and shrubs I had even seen. Alpine & Polar Plant Observatory transported visitors to an amazing, distant and isolated world of alpine, subalpine, Antarctic and Artic landscapes. This section was a welcome relief from the hot 35 degree centigrade weather. It had tunnels, spiralling and climbing paths replicating the natural habitat of this region. I was surprised to see so many colourful and vivid flowers growing in such drastically cold conditions. The Aquaforest Aquarium displayed submerged plants from Europe, America, Asia, Oceania and Africa. We stepped out of the conservatory which was surrounded by exotic water lilies.

Desert Plant Conservatory

At the end of our exhaustive journey, we visited the delicious lakeside restaurant. The botanic garden was a complete and comprehensive encyclopaedia of the plant kingdom, boasting a stunning collection of rare and exotic plants with many unique and interesting displays. The natural beauty of botanic garden stays with our long after our visit is over. This peaceful place lingers in our mind and soul because it has reawakened something in your humanity which is connected and comforted by our relationship with plants, animals and water.

(By Ravisha Kapadia)

Editor:Vita Lin
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