Text by Huang Liwei
In the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties,aristocrats were already enjoying the flowers of Huaxiang inFengtai District of southwestern Beijing, and today peoplefrom all walks of life can savor their splendor. Literallytranslated to “township of flowers,” Huaxiang gained its sterlingreputation during the dynastic era. Now, embraced by a wave ofurban gardeners eager to spruce up their balconies and courtyards,the historic township has become an integrated flower and plantbase with multiple markets specializing in production, sales, andentertainment, seeing more momentum than it has in years.
Removed from the muted tones of the asphalt jungle in downtownBeijing, the bright colors of various flower markets standout amidst the forests of high-rises lining the South Fourth RingRoad. At the heart of Huaxiang’s flower district, Century O’BridgeGarden Center attracts steady streams of gardening fans with itsunique sales style.
Thousands of varieties of foliage on display in the4,000-square-meter market place are all labeled with a uniqueID noting the species and required care. At the garden center,customers can get everything they need for gardening at a singlesuperstore. Showrooms demonstrating concepts for balconies andcourtyards in both Chinese and Western styles lure newcomersto the hobby, help customers decide on purchases, and inspirecustom-made solutions.
Inside, both temperature and humidity are kept constant byspecial equipment to maintain an optimal growing environment. Awalk through the garden center smells as fresh as the most pristineforest, but with even greater diversity. Visitors are mesmerized byvarious artistic and grower-friendly “green goods” ranging fromhigh-end “professional” flowers and plants to miniature hydroponicflowers and cartoonish potted plants.
A subsidiary of Beijing-based Green Garden Group, CenturyO’Bridge Garden Center was established in May 2009 by the teamthat distributed flowers during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Thecenter took the lead in China to adopt the Western sales mode bystandardizing and integrating its products into a big-box store toprovide a “one-stop” shopping experience for gardening enthusiasts.