Helping out to make a greener earth

Monday, October 11, 2010

Taiwan Trip - Part 2, " The Holiday Plant Market"

Its day 3 for me here in Taipei and I somehow feel uneasy as I cannot be as productive as I would want to be.  As a garden designer, I have been looking forward to being part of the team that will do the Philippine Exhibit from the planning stage all the way to the clean-up stage just before judging and opening.  Unfortunately, while I could contribute to the planning and the initial construction stages, I will have to leave the finishing touches to my other friends and collegues as I had to go to Surabaya, Indonesia not for plants but for my other love, dobermans.

Of course, while there, I will take the opportunity to immerse myself in the horticultural richness that is Indonesia.  Most people may already know that Indonesia, like the Philippines is a hotspot for plant diversity.  However, as most avid gardeners and collectors may know, it has transformed itself into a new horticultural juggernaut during the past few years as its plant collectors have been snapping off the best plants, regardless of price tags, from the foremost plant collections all over the world. This will be my first trip to Indonesia and excited as I am, I will surely miss doing the finishing touches on the Philippine Exhibit.
Jianguo Holiday Flower Market: A plant market under an elevated highway

Its a slow day today so I thought it best to write about one of the high points of this trip, a visit to the weekend plant market.  This plant market is very similar to the plant markets in Thailand (Chatuchak) and our very own Sunday Tiangge at the Lung Center.

It has been said that the Taiwanese always find ways of putting the little that they have to the best of use.  Well, this plant market says a lot about this wonderful trait that in so many areas has made it possible for them to have a lot.  What a great idea to put this idle space to good use. Not only does it support the horticulture industry but it also adds to the city landscape an oasis that people would want to visit during weekends.
Filipinos in the horticulture industry can learn a lot from observing this market at work.

We had an early breakfast and boarded a taxi that took us directly to the Juanguo Holiday Flower Market.  Opened only on weekends, this market situated under an elevated highway runs for a few kilometers with two lines of shops facing each other.  It could not possibly compare to Bangkok's Chatuchak in terms of size and variety but  it has its own charm and its array of green collectibles.

The main entry point to the market is impressive enough with the main posts of the elevated highway converted to healthy vertical gardens. Incidentally, vertical gardening seems to be a big thing in Taipei with the government playing a major role in its promotion.

This planting on the left is made up of coleus on top, zyngoniums in the middle (the purplish pink plants) and ferns at the bottom. (I will be doing a separate post on this in the next few days) The planting style is quite typical of the vertical gardens I have seen so far and judging from the development of the plants, this set-up could be about 3 to 6 months old at least.

Annual plugs already flowering

Flowering annuals in plugs greet us.  Impatiens, wax begonias, salvias, cupheas, crossandras all waiting to be transplanted to bigger pots seem to call from their cramped plugs.  "Buy me, buy me!!!!"

The last time I have seen annuals in this condition was during my trips to California which would entail almost daily trip to Lowe's or Home Depot just to appreciate the flowering annuals which are on sale.

Best looking bongainvilleas
There are some outstanding plants on sale in this market.  But I was so pleasantly surprised to see some of the best grown and flowered bongainvilleas I have seen here.  The varieties are not new but the way the plants have been grown and flowered towards the cooler and darker months says a lot about the skill of the people growing them.

There are some vendors offering water plants.  Not as many as one would find in Bangkok.  Mostly water lilies, aquarium plants, surprisingly I did not see any nelumbo or lotus.

What they lack in quantity is made up for by some very interesting water lilies being offered.

Generally, the water lilies are very healthy and well-fed which of course is necessary if one is to have continuously large blooms. They have the typical pinks, some very dark blues and rich yellows and some really lovely ORANGE ones!

I really wanted to have a picture taken of the orange flowers as I know I could not take the plant home so at least I would have pictures but the vendor would not allow for photos to be taken.  Tough luck.  I hope I can see and picture them again either in Indonesia or Bangkok soon.

The vendors also has a very good way of displaying their waterplants. Placed in small basins and other plastic containers, the plants have undamaged leaves and washed really well to the point that the water where they float is kept as clean as possible.  This is something that most vendors of waterplants in other countries normally take for granted.
Giant hibiscus

One plant that got my attention is a hibiscus rosa-sinensis which I suspect to be a discobelle cultivar.  Not only is the color so sweetly delicate with its pink tone softly melting to white but the dinner plate size makes it doubly impressive.  My friend Tata placed his cigarette pack at the bottom of the pot for comparison.

Just like at the Lung Center, this market also features sprouts ready for juice extraction.  This market offers more varieties though.  While we can only get wheat grass sprouts at the Lung Center, here you can take your pick from alfalfa sprouts, mungbeans sprouts, soybean sprouts, etc., in addition to the usual wheat grass.

I would have wanted to know what the purple seedlings are but in this market, it is very difficult to communicate with the vendors as almost all cannot speak English.  A real disadvantage for non-chinese speaking visitors like me.

In addition to the various plants, there are also all kinds of garden supplies  and plants being offered for sale. Pots, fertilizers, tools, seeds.  There are also fresh produce like fruits and some vegetables.  There is no cooked food section or a wet market like the Lung Center though.

Of course, the main event for this market will have to be the orchids on display.  For that, I will reserve a separate post.

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