Yesterday marked the official opening of the daylily season, which this year aims to be a particularly impressive event. Reports from the Hualien County Government says that over 70 hectares have been reserved for ornamental daylilies near Chike Mountain (赤科山) and Liushidan Mountain (六十石山). The county government is expecting an estimated 100,000 people to visit the county specifically to see the flowers that have been retained for viewing rather than harvesting.
The daylily, also known as the tiger lily or the “forget-worry” plant, is said to have been planted by sons who were planning to be away from home for a long period of time. The flowers were planted to be admired and harvested by mothers so as to reduce longing after their children. It is supposedly also an effective treatment in calming the nerves.
The flower is often seen in local home cooking because it’s high in nutrients and provides a rich source of protein and iron. The festival also highlights restaurants that specialize in the preparation of daylily-based dishes.
Daylilies lose their harvest value once the flowers bloom, and it’s only government subsidies and the promise of increased tourism to production areas that keeps farmers from harvesting their crop. The effect is spectacular, but it is worth noting that the beautiful blooms have no commercial value other than what tourists contribute by visiting local restaurants to savor the harvested flowers. As often with Taiwan’s festivals, food does matter, and with the daylily festival, it matters more than most.
Many restaurants in and around Chike Mountain and Liushidan Mountain will be serving a wide variety of dishes that use the daylily as their primary ingredient. With greater concern about food safety, the county government has also encouraged the safe processing of daylily. In the past, exposure to sulfur dioxide was a common procedure, as it preserved the golden color of the flower after drying. Sulfur dioxide residue has given rise to health concerns, and the festival also aims to promote greater awareness among farmers, restaurateurs and tourists of this issue.
Chike Mountain and Liushidan Mountain are sometimes described by fevered publicists as the Switzerland of eastern Taiwan, but discounting the improbabilities of such a comparison, the golden flowers create some spectacular, or at least photogenic, scenes.
The plot is the largest area of daylily to be preserved for purely scenic purposes in Taiwan.
At the press conference announcing the opening of Daylily Festival, Hualien County Commissioner Fu Kun-chi () said this is the third year the government has subsidized scenic daylilies, and is part of a greater push to promote agriculture-related tourism.
Transport information and suggestions relating to accommodation can be found at www.hl-net.com.tw/news/210. The festival officially ends on Sept. 25.