Ewen's garden

A collection of columns, paintings and photographs about gardening on an offshore island in New Zealand.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

A gardener's view of Hong Kong

The grapes are now all in and it was time to head for the airport. From Waiheke to Hong Kong, both islands but there the similarity ends. In fact Waiheke is larger in area than Hong Kong, however Hong Kong crams in 7 million people into the whole territory and of that, 1.4 million are squashed onto the coastal strip of Hong Kong Island itself! This environment of concrete, glass and steel doesn't lend itself to gardening. there are, though, pockets of green, respite from the pellmell of the city traffic, heavy masses and pollution. These small parks more often than not cater to the pedestrian with paved areas, the 'green' being hemmed in behind fences. Smoking is generally prohibited in these spaces. The content is mostly of tropical and subtropical flora. The temperature has been around 28-30 degrees Celsius with 85% humidity! Palms, the orchid tree (Hong Kong's national emblem) and many small shrubs trimmed into the 'cloud' form, very typical of Asian gardens. Water is also nearly always a feature, creating a diversion from the hubbub of the traffic.
No trip to Hong Kong would be complete without a trip up the Peak tram. An impossibly steep cable car. The route ascends the steep slopes of Victoria Peak, through what appears to be jungle. In reality this is not the original forest, very little of which exists today. Much of the floor is clothed with white ginger and large leaved aroids, taro. The view from the top is magnificent, being just below the clouds, which at times did whip over the ridge.
From what I could make out most domestic gardening happens in containers and pots. The best place to acquire these would have to be the flower market in Kowloon, just around the corner from the raucous bird market. Amongst the many potted plants were also vast arrays of cut flowers, no doubt destined to small flats, bringing a small amount of natural beauty to life lived amongst teeming humanity. It would be very easy to feel small and insignificant here. Give me the beaches, open spaces and fresh air of Waiheke any day!
My next column will be from Denmark, including a ten day stay in Belgium.



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