Spring has arrived in Shanghai and the evidence is blooming in the city’s many parks and gardens. Despite Shanghai’s reputation as an overdeveloped megalopolis, there is an amazing abundance of well-tended green spaces. One of the newest is Gucun Park, and at 180 hectares, it’s the largest of the city’s so-called forest parks which give Shanghai-dwellers the chance to commune with nature, albeit the man-made kind. Gucun Park is laid out with forests, meadows, lakes and canals, and is a popular place for picnics thanks to its large barbecue area. When I heard there was a cherry blossom festival happening there, I knew I had to check it out. So did about two million other people. Seriously. The crowds rivaled those encountered at the Leshan Giant Buddha and the Forbidden City.
Thankfully the park was large enough that we were able to spread out off the main path and get some elbow room. Families brought along blankets and picnic supplies and some people even pitched tents in which to enjoy afternoon naps. Had everyone been content to simply admire the cherry blossoms, things would have been fine. But spring fever had unfortunately compelled many to pluck the flowers and wear them in their hair. I even saw a few people walking around with whole branches!
Even with the crowds and disappearing blooms, it was still possible to appreciate the beauty surrounding me. Gucun Park is home to over 10,000 cherry trees of 28 varieties and the display was dazzling.
The landscape was dotted with weeping willows and blossoming apricot, plum and tulip trees, not to mention roses, camellias and fields of purple Philippine violets. These, too, faced an onslaught of eager hands. One of my favorite feature of the park was the skeletal forest with branches curved from the wind. Miraculously, I somehow managed to get a photo without a single person in the frame! China has made me nothing if not patient.
The 2013 Shanghai Cherry Blossom runs from March 22 to April 30. Tickets cost 20 RMB per person, about 3.25 USD.
Where: Gucun Park, 1 Huandao Lu, 4788 Hutai Lu, Gucun Town, Baoshan District, Shanghai
Getting there: take subway line 7 to Gucun Park Station