Lotus Tour of China

by Pat Clifford
Senior Horticulturist, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Click images to enlarge

In July of 2007, following the IWGS Symposium in Thailand, "lotus emperor" Grant Mitchell led a multi-national group on an eight day tour of Nelumbo sites in the Middle Kingdom of China. The quite eclectic group got on brilliantly. For me it was the trip of a lifetime.


Enter the Dragon

Being truthful this was the part of the journey that filled me with trepidation but also excitement and with this in mind I flew from Bangkok to Kunming on Monday 23 July. Fortunately I met up with the rest of the party at the Symposium who were also going on to China, so this helped, and we made it safely and uneventfully to Kunming. Well apart from one of the group who had problems at immigration because the Chinese authorities had never seen a Costa Rican passport, but this was soon sorted out when he pointed out he had American citizenship. It was a really mixed group and the whole experience benefited from this.  


One of the few old buildings left

A traditional site

The first day was spent at a leisurely pace because of the altitude difference; Kunming is 1800M above sea-level and we walked to the fabulous Cui Lake Park. This is in the heart of the city and had some massive lakes which were filled with Nelumbo and Nymphaea cultivars and all around the park local women were dancing in large groups to many different styles of music emanating from large Ghetto-Blasters. In the quieter areas of the park the older generation were practising the ancient art of Tai Chi amidst some beautiful Lagerstroemia indica, which were in full bloom.

Unbelievably we were to visit Kunming during the wettest spell anyone can remember apparently it rained practically non-stop for twenty-two days. Kunming is known as the city of "Eternal Spring", it had certainly sprung a leak when we were there! 


^ Old and new in Kunming >

"Relaxing" foot massage --
aarrrgh!! >


Making green tea in a
local hostelry >



Cui Lake Park


Massive Nymphaeas >

Tai Chi

My first sighting of Nelumbo in China

Old and new again in Kunming

Gallery 2 > | Gallery 3 > | Gallery 4 >

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