Thu, Feb 06, 2014 - Page 3 News List

FEATURE: Cherry blossoms bloom in Taipei parks

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff reporter

Cherry trees blossom in Songzhi Park near Taipei 101 yesterday.

Photo: Mo Yan-chih, Taipei Times

Cherry blossom viewing has become a popular activity among Taiwanese, and in Taipei City the pink flowers are not only hidden in the mountains, but can now be found in downtown areas, as the Taipei City Government has planted cherry trees around the city to make blossom viewing more convenient.

With the approach of cherry blossom season in Taiwan, buds on the cherry trees at Songzhi Park in Xinyi District (信義) have begun to open, revelaing their pink petals. Located near two of the city’s main tourist attractions, Taipei 101 and the Eslite Xinyi Store, the park is one of the new locales for cherry blossom viewing in urban areas, with 12 Taiwan cherry trees lining the park, which is surrounded by high-rise office buildings.

Taipei City’s Parks and Street Light Office Secretary-General Lan Shu-fan (藍舒凡) said the city government aims to bring the city’s cherry blossoms to the attention of residents and visitors, and improve the city’s landscape.

Taipei City Hall civil servant and Taipei resident Claire Chiu (邱宛玉) walked to the park and took photographs of cherry trees during her lunch hour on Tuesday and said seeing cherry blossoms in the commercial-centered Xinyi District was a pleasant surprise, and taking a walk in the park and enjoying the cherry blossoms has become a new way for Chiu to relieve stress.

“I was surprised when I saw the cherry blossoms in the park on my way to work. Cherry blossom spots in the mountains are grand, but I also enjoy cherry blossom viewing downtown. It feels like the cherry trees are in my backyard,” she said.

The plaza at Taipei City Hall’s north gate and another two parks in Xinyi District — Zhongquan Park and Hulin Park — also have cherry trees, Lan said.

To keep up with the trend of cherry blossom viewing, the office and Taipei City’s Department of Civil Affairs have invested more than NT$15 million (US$500,000) into the planting of more than 4,000 cherry trees in city parks and other locations since 2008.

Yongjin Park in Zhongshan District (中山) and Youth Park in Wanhua District (萬華), for example, are community parks with cherry blossom trees.

Lan said the cherry blossom season started in January and will last until March depending on weather conditions and the variety of cherry trees.

Apart from Taiwanese cherry trees, the city also planted double cherry, Japanese showa cherry and somei-yoshino cherry trees in Taipei.

Most of the cherry trees are still found in Yangmingshan (陽明山), Shilin (士林) and Beitou (北投) districts.

For people who prefer a grander viewing of the blossoms, the annual Yangmingshan Flower Festival, which will last until March 9 in Yangmingshan National Park, remains a top destination.

Yangmingshan National Park management office director Kao Min-dien (高民典) said several areas near the park — including the Chiang Kai-shek Shilin Residence, Shuangxi Park, Lin Yu-tang House, the Floriculture Experiment Center, Qianshan Park and Yangming Park — are also cherry blossom viewing spots.

Taipei City’s Geotechnical Engineering Office recommended 22 hiking trails with cherry trees along the paths.

The Yongchunliao and the White House Villa trails in Beitou District, for example, are popular cherry blossom viewing spots, it said.

Office Director Huang Li-yuan (黃立遠) suggested that visitors could hike from the villa to the Yongchunliao Trail, appreciating the view of what the locals describe as a “cherry tunnel” along the way.

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