Botanical Gardens which in total cover an area of 400 hectares (making this the largest botanical exhibition in the county), are divided into various distinct gardens – each of which showcases the beauty of predominantly northern Chinese flora. This is not just a park – it’s a scientific reserve, and from every tree in the enclosure, both rare and common, hangs a detailed plaque.
It’s the specialty gardens that make for the most rewarding viewing, and all of them are free except the tropical conservatory. The conservatory is a massive greenhouse with politely laid-out walkways leading through an artificial jungle of colorful orchids, broad-leaved green tropical trees, cacti and other rare plants, including a good selection of carnivorous varieties, and there’s a special display prepared every month. For something a little more delicate, wander through the peach and cherry blossom gardens (when in season), and try to remain unmoved as the breeze gently carries the thousand-fold silky petals through the air. The blossoms of each orchard shyly blush in distinctive pastel shades, making a stroll through these gardens a simple delight. The peony gardens are perhaps the most stereotypically Chinese, with large, colorful flowers prized for their decorative and medicinal properties, and referred to in China as the “king of flowers.”The rose garden alone covers seven hectares and contains over 1,000 varieties of roses. Other gardens feature lilacs, conifers, maples, bamboo and pines.
In the far north of the park, a long, tree-lined avenue leads to the entrance of the Shifangpujue Temple, more commonly referred to as Wofo Si, which means the Temple of the Sleeping Buddha. The name refers to the 54-ton reclining Sakyamuni Buddhacast in bronze back in the Yuan dynasty in the year 1321 AD. The temple was built to house the Buddha and the completion of the project cost 10 million guan (the currency of the age) and required the efforts of 7,000 slaves. Despite the name, the Buddha is not reclining in sleep, but dying. The clay figures around his expiring form are receiving his last instructions. Despite its age, frequent repairs have made the temple look as sparkling as the day it was completed – which may convey an inauthentic tone to enthusiasts of traditional Chinese architectural sites.
Beijing Botanical Gardens is worth a visit for you to look for a peaceful day amidst China’s history and nature.