Text by Qiu Lei
The terra-cotta warrior statues are globally famous, and if you know about them, you should know about the city of Xi’an, which was capital of 13 of China’s ancient dynasties. Most visitors to Xi’an are stunned that the city is so embraced by historical artifacts around every corner. Xi’an locals like to say that any brick you casually pick up could possibly be an invaluable millennium-old artifact.
However, visitors arriving in Xi’an after April 28 of this year have been able to see not only the city’s timeless ancient relics, but also a more fleeting attraction: a grand horticultural exhibition. For 178 days, the International Horticultural Exposition 2011 will remain in Xi’an, closing on October 22. With a theme alluding to eternal peace and harmony between nature and mankind, the expo features not only beautiful natural scenery composed of myriad plants, but also a variety of garden architectural designs. Also, the event showcases the history, culture, and characteristics of Xi’an. Participants are urged to demonstrate new concepts and creative methods of enhancing harmony with nature, and explore innovative models for sustainable co-existence between humans, cities, gardens, and nature.
Officially recognized and approved by the International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH), the expo is a non-trade international event usually organized by the government or relevant organizations authorized by the government of the host country, aiming to promote economic, cultural and technological communication and development between participating nations and organizations. So far, the expo has been held 20 times, including twice in China: Kunming in 1999 and Shenyang in 2006. Because of its profound influence and comprehensive benefits to those in related industries, the event has been called the Olympic Games of world garden culture and science, and host city bidding has become increasingly competitive.
The expo covers a total area of 418 hectares including 188 hectares covered by water. The arena was designed with a pattern consisting of “two circles, two axes, and five parks.” The “two circles” refer to the main circle, consisting of the outdoor exhibition areas and garden scenic spots, as well as the sub-circle, which consists of the expanded area with support facilities such as the expo village and management center. Don’t confuse the “two axes” with tools to cut down trees. It refers to one main axis running north-south and the other running east-west. The “five parks” are Chang’an Park, Creativity Park, Five-Continent Park, Sci-tech Park and Experience Park.