TAIPEI (台北)


NEW TAIPEI (新北)


CHERRY BLOSSOMS (櫻花)


YILAN (宜蘭)- NORTHERN TAIWAN


HUALIEN (花蓮) - TAROKO (太魯閣)


SUN MOON LAKE (日月潭)


TAICHUNG (台中) - CENTRAL TAIWAN


TAITUNG (台東) - EAST RIFT VALLEY (花東縱谷)


KENTING (墾丁) - SOUTHERN TAIWAN


OUTLYING ISLANDS


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

NEW

Yangmingshan blossoms again for another flower festival!  As the sun continues to scorch Taiwan, colorful puffy heads have already appeared on selected farms in the national park.  Get to know the “hydrangeas”, our flower of the month for this episode of the “My Beloved Taipei” Travel Series.  Described by the English-speaking world as the aqua barrels for its love for water. Their ability to quickly absorb water is not what people drive them crazy.  It's their round-shaped appearance.  Locals have been visiting Zhuzihu just to see these flowers and I went there to know more about the frenzy. 








Calla lily out, hydrangea in.   After the calla lily is done with its reign in April, the weather in May makes it suitable to grow the hydrangeas.  But unlike the white lilies of Zhuzihu which dominates the scenic area, our featured blossom is mostly found in the hidden corners of the high-altitude valley.  Each floral garden is unique in terms of the varieties of the flowers that can be seen as well as the scenery that can be enjoyed.  For this travel adventure, I selected two which I find to be the most interesting. 










My first stop.  The Terraced Flowers Ecological Farm (大梯田花卉生態農園).  Tickets cost NTD 100 for each person.  It is a private garden where the entrance ticket can be used as a voucher in the restaurant.   The hydrangeas are planted in the terraces which makes it good for taking selfies.  Go to the higher levels to see the entirety of the floral paradise.  Flowers of different colors can be seen and are mixed making the place pleasing to the eyes.







Just be careful while walking along the narrow pathway of each terrace level, as some of the tiers were a bit high that careless visitors can easily fall on the bed of flowers below.  As the hydrangeas need lots of water, some areas of the garden are wet areas so tourists must check first if they are going to step on mud with a murky liquid. 




But beyond the danger of injuring one's self or getting your shoes dirty. The Terraced Flowers Ecological Farm is a perfect place to take photos of the hydrangea.  Go to the lowest level and watch as the sun's rays illuminate the entire place.  You would see people walking back and forth busy capturing their precious moments.    







And after enjoying the flowers, why not enter the restaurant and use your ticket?  Since it was too hot during my visit, I ordered an iced coffee without sugar to cool myself.  The taste wasn't that great but just enough relieve me from the heat of the hot sun.  I walked back to the bus stop while sipping my coffee.  In a few minutes, I reached the main road.  If you are in a hurry to see the hydrangeas, then this farm is a good place to start with since it is only a short walk from the Zhuzihu bus stop.


The "Top Lake" offer views of the Xiaoyoukeng sulfur vent

Dàgōngyuán (大賞園) Farm

The entrance of the Dàgōngyuán (大賞園) Farm

The second farm that I visited is far-away from the Zhuzihu that people used to know.  It's the Dàgōngyuán (大賞園) Farm and it is located in a place called the “Top Lake”.  The whole Zhuzihu scenic area is a former inland body of water that had dried up a long time ago and is now the fertile plain that is planted with various plant species.   It has a northern region which is concealed by a mountain.  This is the “Top Lake” and it's the most romantic place to see the calla lilies during their full bloom.  Couples should go here if they want to have their prenuptial photos taken in Taiwan during April.













Entrance to the farm costs NTD 100.  They have the same blue and violet hydrangeas but their white variety is the most eye-catching.  Gazing at Xiayoukeng, the white hydrangeas look like snowballs that glisten under the sun.  Taking photos was a bit difficult as visitors are not allowed to go in the middle of the plantation.  Strings were tied around the tall bushes of the white hydrangeas preventing people from getting inside.  There were warnings of snakes and that might be the reason.  









Comparing the two private gardens that I have visited, I find the Terraced Flowers Ecological Farm a more suitable place to enjoy the hydrangeas.  Its multi-tier landscape allows visitors to see lots of flowers from above without the need of any drone.  Here in Dàgōngyuán Farm, the white hydrangeas plus the view of Xiaoyoukeng is what drives visitors to come here.  Imagine a sulfur vent emitting toxic gases as a background of blooming flowers.   Anyway, I love both places.  It was just too hot to wander in Yangmingshan on a sunny weather.  Haha!








A little trivia.  The “flowers” of the hydrangea are actually the sepals or the specialized leaves of the plant.   The real flowers are small to be recognized that people mistook the ball of sepals as the entire “flower”.  Acidic, basic or neutral?  The hydrangea is like a natural pH indicator of the soil on which it grows.  The flower is blue if the soil is acidic and it is red when it is basic.  Don't let yourself get confused with what you learned in your high school chemistry, that a change of color in a pH paper from blue to red is acidic.   The reverse is true for the hydrangea flowers.  Farmers use this knowledge to create a variety of colors by adding chemicals like aluminum sulfate or hydroxide salts in the soil to control its acidity.  Do you want a pink hydrangea? Make the soil basic.  Do you want a blue one? Make the soil acidic.  It's all about chemistry!






If you plan to visit during the weekends, then expect a lot of people in Zhuzihu.  You might also be surprised to see hordes of tourists on a busy working day.  News in Taiwan about the hottest seasonal attractions spread like wildfire and locals are quick to join the bandwagon.  I think no one in Taipei wants to be left behind.  Do you? So grab your camera now and go to Yangmingshan.  Surround yourself with a sea of flowers and feel this mania for hydrangea.

****************************************************
Terraced Flowers Ecological Farm (大梯田花卉生態農園)
address: 112, Taipei City, Beitou District, 竹子湖路33-7號 [Google Map]
nearest bus stop: Zhúzihú (竹子湖) [Google Map]
Tickets: NTD 100

Dàgōngyuán (大賞園)
address: 112, Taipei City, Beitou District, 竹子湖路67-7號 [Google Map]
nearest bus stop: Fengjiakou (風架口), tell the driver to drop you off at this stop [Google Map]
Tickets: NTD 100


How to get to Zhúzihú or Fengjiakou
[1] MRT Shipai Station (Red Line)  -> Bus S8 (everyday)
[2] MRT Beitou Station (Red Line) -> Bus S9 (everyday) or 129 (weekend/holidays)


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