Travel & Acrobatics to Take Mind off Gardening

Old Theatre in China

I had an interesting question about gardening the other day. It was that if I ever needed to take my mind off it. Interestingly enough, there really are plenty of moments when I just want to forget it all. Ranging from cooking, travel, having sex or even an acrobatic show. That is in fact, an important essense of the Slow Gardening concept that I haven’t really talked about. Because gardening is a very natural thing, it is not just something you should take slowly but also something that should be very automatic. Meaning, that if you are thinking about your garden and worrying how it’s going to end up.. this is the wrong approach to start with. One needs to forget it, it’s as important as remembering it. It’s a kind of a zen approach to gardening, which makes the vegetables even tastier. Consider the nature as something part of everything, that we are working together.. just trust that it’s there and it will produce amazing results for you. The richest vegetables and most beautiful plants grow when they are not disturbed too much. This is very important to understand when starting your “career” with the a slow gardening approach.

Coming back to the interesting question I had. Everyone has a different way to just forget about it, after all it’s life that’s different. So for me, it’s a sort of a continuation from gardening to something that makes me connected with the world. And one of the most amazing experiences that does that, is travel. Also when travelling to China for example, as explained in previous posts, you are away long enough to totally forget. When you come back after several weeks, things will be different, fresh and exiting again. I personally need that from time to time. It’s also a good no-brainer tip from me, that’s not to be forgotten if you really want to loosen a little.

Anyway, also when I travel. While I am interesting in seeing other gardens around the world and such.. it’s definitely not the only thing on my list of things do to. For example, in one of my favorite cities to travel to, which is Beijing in China. I have several favorite things, that I just love to do.. and one that kind of tops all the other experiences so far is the acrobatic show in Beijing. In earlier posts, I have blogged about the brilliant experience in Chaoyang Theatre that has kind of like transformed me because I enjoyed it so much. It is something very far from gardening, yet it is a circus performance that a gardener can definitely appriciate. But why the acrobatics is such a perfect example in all this, is that while it totally takes my mind off gardening. At the same time, it gives me huge power and motivations to continue with my hobby. Seeing those acrobatic performers do those amazing tricks, gives birth to a voice inside of my self that is saying: “yes I can!”. But what’s really magical about it, in a meditative way that is.. that I cannot really put my fingure on what it might be. Perhaps a new design in the garden, or a new goal to grow some very exotic fruit or vegetable. You never really know, but just having that sense of inspiration and innovation is very important for the next big gardening project.

For everyone it really is different, and why for me acrobatics in the distant China. Well, it just came to me and I cannot explain it so perfectly. All I know that the Chaoyang Theatre is the most impressive theater venue I have witnessed in my whole life. It really made me think again of my possibilities. Something that the actors in this show have definitely figured out! Want a trip to performing show life, head to Beijing and forget about everything you knew, only to be born again. That sentence would definitely sum it up.

Now back in the states I feel more confident. And that’s the whole reason why I go to such far lengths to travel to China or anything similar to achieve it. Try it out.. and get deeper into slow gardening!

Best wishes,
Pete Underwood

Xian Show & Beautiful Xian Botanical Garden

I’m proud to present to you some beautiful pictures I took at the Xian Botanical Garden. Which is by far one of the most impressive gardens I have seen with flowers and all. Yes, this huge garden that covers an area of 20 hectars or approximately 49 acres is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world. And amongst the first eight that were built in the whole of China to please the emperor of those times. I am presenting to you some pictures, but I have to say that the 3,500 or more plants that are presented here are more than plenty to take photographs of. That’s why I have only settled on presenting to you a handful, to see some of the highlights that I personally liked. Also another little restriction was, that I only had one whole day to observe it. For those who want to really get deep into the world of flowers, I would recommend a much longer stay.

At Xian

Despite this time restriction, I was able to witness one of the most brilliant displays and assortments of flowers I had seen in my life. The diversity is simply mind boggling. My favorite kinds were the medical plants as well as the aromatic plant garden. I like to think about the different uses for different plants, be it medicine, aroma or insense. China is surely one of the experts in this field, of which Xian is the oldest city for having such deep culture.

At Xian

Of course, no garden is complete with a panda to decorate the garden. Such as this one in the picture. Also, this is absolutely my favorite flowers or at least one of them.. the “Big Wild Goose Pagoda” which does not fail to show it’s beauty and impress everyone!

At Xian

Also one impressive display was that of the tree-peony. It is the Chinese national flower, however there are over 200 categories of it. Incredibly all of which are on show here! There is also an exhibition that explains the history in very detail. Highly recommended!

At Xian

And no trip is complete, without some entertainment. For which Xian is famous for it’s traditions in performing arts. The Tang Dynasty which is when the city of Xian was built, is the name of the show that displays beauty of acting as beautiful as the flowers. Along with a live traditional Chinese orchestra. It really made my day and in the end the night as well, more perfect than I could ever hoped for. The Tang Dynasty Palace is also an extremely beautiful old building, so in itself it is worth to go to see it as well. The magical show was enjoyed by me and my colleagues and we will never forget it!

Best regards,

Pete Underwood

Peace Through Acrobatics & Law of Nature

Shanghai Contest Show

Just as there is a battle between plants that grow amongst themselves.. at the same time there is harmony. This is one of the mysteries of life. How can people be in peace while they are competing against each other, even trying to destroy each other. But I would like to stress that I don’t think there is any reason to be scared.

Such is the case between China and Japan as well as Korea. All countries are so deeply and historically rooted, just as a tree that has grown for centuries. Yet, they choose to fight. While it’s unfortunate, perhaps the balance is there.. just hidden to those who think negatively.

In shanghai I observed this through the Shanghai acrobatic show scene which I am very fond of. While many have fallen down because of territorial disputes.. some have gotten up and create an even better show of acrobatics! There are about three theaters left, from the total of almost a dozen that use to roam the scene.

It was sad to see some of the older theaters wither away.. because there were no Japanese people coming to these shows anymore. They are scared and trying to find another way to approach China. With peace and balance. But those who survive are better than ever. During my visit there, I enjoyed them extremely much.

And that’s the peace.. how things evolve. There is lot more to evolve and sometimes the world needs such dramatic events to learn. Again, it’s unfortunate but seems to be like a law of the nature. Shanghai is a good example, because while the development there seems totally irrational and even crazy at times. Even from such places, this peaceful harmony can be found. Be it performing arts or the local flower shop.., you just need to look at it the right way!

My peace wishes for two of my favorites countries in this world, Japan and China.

Pete Underwood

Rice Harvest in Japan

Rice Harvest

The harvest season in Japan has been largely successful, dispite the usual typhoons that still continue to sweep the country. The Japanese are busy at home eating their “shin kome”, newly harvested rice which for some reason tastes better than ever.

Just as Christopher columbus put it when he first set foot on the island, the landscape was covered in gold. Wherever you can find errable land, there are fields in use.. even for some of those fields that are not being used at the moment, the government is paying the farmers to plan flowers.. only for display!

One amazing view after another.. but they all seem to have at least three elements that are the same. The fields, the mountains and last but not least the electric cables!

This sight is hightened, when the crops turn to gold.. wind blows through the fields and sprinkles magic golden dust throught Japan.

Then it’s harvest time and machines carefully process all the rice.. until a fine white mountain of grain. Not all of the crop can be processed by machine so the plants on the edge of the field are being collected by hand to save every last bit of rice.

After this is done, the field is burnt to make the soil ready for next years crop. The air is in smoke and the island has lost it’s golden glow.. winter is coming…!

Back in Beijing, Back in Plant and Kung Fu Show Life

Well, I could not hold much longer. When I go to visit places such as Beijing, I become affectionate with them and it’s hard to leave it at just one visit. China is really the country of opportunities, and my life in the states has become increasingly harder to get into grips with, when it comes to managing my life there. Everything seems so easy and flexible in the mainland if you have some knowledge and skills to share with these kind people.

I’ve have been temporarily recruited in garden design and management, which is a great pleasure to be welcomed in a country where gardening already has it’s long roots with many professionals around. My personality is to show sympathy towards local culture as I sincerely do want to learn foreign countries as deeply and profoundly as possible. A mission that even many locals seem to forget nowadays. In this way I have gained much respect amongst these people whom I have received as dear friends and colleagues.

As usual, I caught up on some local expertise, this time the Red Theatre Kung Fu Show was another Beijing production that blew my mind. Tender was not the word that crossed my mind when I went there but incredibly this was one element that was intertwined into the spectacle. As a heterosexual but tender flower loving person, I did appreciate the tenderness that was shown amongst a story full of aggressive moments and action. Such a dance of balancing the two creates a somewhat realistic feature of what is the true story of Kung Fu. I would definitely go and see the show again as the Red Theatre captivated my mind pretty well.

Nature is definitely at close proximity here, the bald skillful men showing their martial art skills, the monk style, takes some guts to perform in such an exquisite manner. One disconnected with nature and plant life would not be able to make such a performance. I’m sure about that!

Last But Not Least, Beijing Acrobatics

My trip is soon nearing it’s end and my fascination for travel has increased evermore. Thus I hope to do a lot more travel in the future. What I have learned from this trip is to have less expectations and embrace the world in the form that it comes to you.

China has completely broken my expectations as a polluted, non-ecologic country. These people are getting into grips with life amongst such a huge population. Occasionally the lifestyle is damaging for the nature but people have done a great deal on an individual level. Nothing goes to waste here and nature is precious to them. Perhaps the changes that lack are on a governmental level. One thing I now know is that the Chinese love their plants & nature :)

So last but not least, I am sharing my photos from the Chaoyang Theatre performance. My favorite acrobatics were the wheels of the dead which is really amazing. The men walk along a huge wheel with their eyes blindfolded and play around as if they would fall down. Makes the audience scared silly. And I always love the kongzhu stuff, which is like a Chinese yo-yo.

Enjoy.

Sincrely,
SG.

PS. Feel free to use my pics, just let me know beforehand!

Great Hilariousities in Beijing

I’ve gotten all soft on my travels haven’t I.

Couldn’t help sharing this with you guys, the Peking Opera here is simply hilarious. It’s extremely detailed and beautiful “acting choreography” that’s played out like silly fools! Well, at least that’s my non-professional description of it.

Seriously I had a laugh of a lifetime at the show at Liyuan Theatre which caters tourists but who cares. It’s a genuine performance and they’ve been at it in this particular theatre since oh- ’90! Now that makes it all worth it doesn’t it.

Just have a look at the pictures I took and you will see what I mean. I was sitting right next to the stage on these big wooden tables and drinking delicious tea. Thanks to the *wink* huge discount I got from May Tours.

This is a kind of kungfu style in Peking Opera acting. Great moves.

Is there something I can say. She’s wicked :)

The tough twins, I bet there out to kill someone.

Now this guy looks like there’s growing some psychedelic grass out of his beard.

These guys seem a bit serious don’t they. Well from here it gets pretty comic and pretty soon.

She’s like the most beautiful mom, just the way she moves is so delicate and beautiful.

All that shoving about could be converted into extremely useful workforce at my garden back home.

Greets,
SG.

Slowing down on a beautiful autumn day at Chaoyang Park

Greetings from China!

Did you know that right next to the huge Beijing metropolis lies 300 hectares of magnificent trees, grass and lakes. Surrounded by suburb after suburb the Chaoyang Park (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beijing_Chaoyang_Park) is where all the locals seem to gather to take it slow and get time off from the buzz. Any time of the year!

My trip in China has been a timely one. But what does a green thumb do traveling when the nature is about to go back to sleep?

The simple answer is, this is the time of the year when I have time off from my work in agriculture. But that’s only half of the story. I think that the autumn change in season is one of the grandest displays of nature. For me, nothing could be more relaxing than looking at the leafs falling and feeling the cold breeze brushing my hair.

This garden tip is the laziest of them all as it requires no work from your part:) Go to the park on a very cold autumn day, but preferably sunny day and very windy as well. Take a news paper with you, find a bench to sit down in the park, realize that it’s simply impossible to read the news paper in that wind. Run after the flying newspaper and voila, you are ready to enjoy and relax now.

My personal tour guide was very understanding as I don’t enjoy the normal touristic routes much. There was a woman picking up something from the ground and I asked my guide from May Tours (http://maytoursbeijing.info) to go and ask her what she was doing. Turns out the woman was looking for leaves and sticks to warm her little hutong house nearby. Seems not everyone is fortunate enough to have an opportunity to just enjoy shuffling in the leaves.

Autumn leaves scattered around the lake.

With strong wind the lake stays calm.

High rise buildings in the distance.

People enjoying the view.

Walk down the path or take a bench.

Right next to the park, we went to see the Chaoyang Acrobatic Show (http://maytoursbeijing.info/beijing-acrobatic-show-tickets).

It was magnificent.

Regards. SG