The Botanical Garden in Taichung
By Jaya Hiranandani Special to The China Post Thursday, May 24, 2007, 12:00 am TWN
In the crisp morning air during the Chinese New Year holidays, we left for our three-day trip to Taiwan's third largest city —Taichung (台中). One of our most remembered visits during the trip was to the Botanical Garden.
Sitting directly opposite Taichung's major attraction, the National Museum of Natural Sciences, the 4.5-hectare Botanical Garden is remarkable for the striking greenhouse structure housing tropical rainforest flora. The Botanical Garden is admired as a major urban horticultural and botanical resource.
Passing by the serene lotus pond gives the impression that this is a place to rejuvenate oneself and relax after a hectic day of sightseeing. There is a faint smell of flowers and algae in the atmosphere. Children run after fluttering butterflies; few couples sit here and there on rocks, enchanted by the ambience.
Further ahead, a giant butterfly structure announces the entrance of the tropical rainforest conservatory. The sound of a waterfall dominates the atmosphere. This huge edifice houses 300 species of rain forest plants, simulating the complex rain forest environment. One can explore all levels of a rainforest using an elevator, or by climbing down the stairs and up the rocks.
In the basement, there is a 14-foot aquarium, housing some of the Amazon's largest fish and some smaller aquariums with piranha and other fishes. During our visit, there was a breathtaking collection of quilts on display opposite the fish tank.
While my son got all excited about the giant stingrays and the fierce piranhas, I went gaga over the intricate nature-inspired designs on quilted wall hangings, handbags and other creations. There is also a gift shop, restaurant and a DIY art center here. The Botany Department's publications are also available for sale here.
The surrounding area is divided based on the various ecological areas of Taiwan and features the vegetation of each. In some places, the common names are given along with the latin botanical ones. For us, it was just a place to walk around amongst the soothing greenery. When we felt tired, we rested in the "Southern Lowlands Ecological Area."
But the best was yet to come. While making our way out, out of curiosity we followed a stream of visitors heading towards the Exhibition Room. We went there and bought a NT$20 ticket to find ourselves in a Tulip Exhibition.
Over the past two years, the Botany Department of the National Museum of Natural Science has been organizing various special exhibitions corresponding to different seasons. The Tulip Exhibition was being held till March 11.
The exhibition area was small and crowded. A kaleidoscope of tulips in various shades and hues surrounded us. The colorful burst gave way to a soothing exhibition of ferns and other foliage. People took pictures from every nook and corner.
On our way out, the intricate working of the "Time Flow Clock" amazed us. The clock combines science, art and technology to tell time using the flow of water.
An education in botany, a sight for sore eyes, a place for children to create their own masterpieces, a chance to appreciate the wonders of nature, and an urban sanctuary to rest in — for us, the Botanical Garden of Taichung was a bit of all these.
The Greenhouse is open Tuesday through Sunday, 9:00a.m.~—5:00 p.m. The Botanical Garden's grounds remain open untill 10:00 p.m. on weekdays and untill 6:00 p.m. on weekends and holidays from February through October.
For further details contact 04-2322-6940 ext. 170 or visit the National Museum of Natural Science's excellent English website http://www.nmns.edu.tw/index_eng.html