Text by Liang Sufang Photographs by Chen Jian
Pang Hai’ou is used to seeing people stop at her home orslow down to admire her garden. Neighbors often dropby to see what’s new, enjoy the color of the tulips, orcount the newly-blossomed clematis.
However, her real name isn’t as well known as her screenname: Turtle Mother.
Pang resides in a community of more than 2,000 households in the Chaoyang District of eastern Beijing. She is best known foroperating an online gardening forum.
Her first-floor apartment affords her a courtyard of 40 squaremeters, where she has nurtured dozens of species of flowers,including lilies, geraniums, daisies, and roses, complemented by asmall pond of goldfish.
The flowers in the garden are seasonal. Two weeks earlier, thetulip blossoms attracted an endless stream of admirers. Her upstairsneighbor even invites visitors to her balcony for a bird’s-eyeview. “Admission is free for all,” grins the neighbor.
As a matter of fact, the second-floor neighbor has also begungardening on her balcony. “I didn’t used to be a gardening enthusiast,”she reveals, “but when I moved here in 2001, I was inspired by thebeautiful flowers downstairs. That’s why I followed her footsteps.”
On the third floor lives a white-collar couple. Turtle Motherhelped them purchase seedlings and taught them how to plant.Now even the balcony on the third floor has also become a littlegarden. More and more neighbors followed suit, and today almostevery apartment in her building has its own garden.
Turtle Mother is well known throughout the community, whichis seeing greater and greater numbers of gardeners. For those intimidatedby the effort required to care for flowers, Pang is alwaysready to offer advice and help. And rookies usually stop complainingand fall in love with flowers upon witnessing them bloom.
“Many master gardeners have emerged,” remarks TurtleMother.