Sunday, November 30, 2008

From the back streets of old Shanghai

Gerberas are popular in China and mostly they appear in arrangements similar to the one above where gerberas are mixed with other flowers on a cane frame. There is a block of what we would call "oasis" which is full of water and the flowers are inserted into this water filled block to keep them fresh for longer periods. (I suspect that few of the new owners of these arrangements ever "top up" the water, as the flowers are soon dead!)

Many of these arrangements are used in shops or restaurants particularly new ones. This is one of the best arrangements of this type that I have seen.

We visited Old Shanghai Town which is beside Yu Gardens in the old part of Shanghai - there are many tourists and locals who shop in this vicinity, but we were "off the beaten track" in the back streets behind the Dragon Gate Mall, where these arrangements were sitting on the street outside the florist shop.

There are many many florists in China - quite surprising really!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Appartments in Shanghai

I mentioned in an earlier post that the apartments we stayed at in Shanghai featured Gerberas. This photo is of just one of the flowers. Each table in the restaurant had a fresh Gerbera - such as this one in a delightful vase, with some glass marbles at the bottom of the vase.

The New Harbour Service Apartments are at number 88 Yongshou Road, Shanghai. It was great to stay in a place where we had a little space. Our apartment had two bedrooms, a nice bathroom/toilet, a very pleasant lounge and dining room and a small kitchen. The kitchen was poorly presented - no spoon, (not even to stir in the sugar of our coffee). There were two cups and saucers, and some glasses. If you wanted to cook up something you'd have to hire the cultery, the plates etc and anything you need to use. Here in Australia we've stayed in apartments where all these items are provided. And you pay if they are not all there when you depart!!!

From our window we could see Old Chinatown and parts of the the Huangpu River, as well as many of the high rise buildings. It was a short walk from Peoples Square and the Shanghai Museum, and a bit further to Nanjing Road.

Even if you need to catch a taxi - it is not far, so there's no high expensive cab charge.

Would I stay there again? In a heartbeat. I hope to do so one day soon.

Business closed

Well, after five years of growing Gerbera's we have sold the business. Not as a going concern, but we've sold off various parts of the business including the plants. In part it was because the property is up for sale. We knew when we went into business with our daughter and son in law, that as it was on their property we might have to face the fact that they might want to move on.

And so it is - that their property has been up for sale for some months now. The real estate market is rather interesting at the moment - there are far more properties on the market right now as the high interest rates and the challenges within the finance industry hurt many potential home buiyers.

In any case, we've come to enjoy the late mornings sleep ins - in the past we were always up early. At least three or four days a week we'd be up around 5 am to pick flowers and do other work on the farm. Now we don't need to!

But it does mean that we will be looking for alternative income sources - after a break.

My love affair with the beautiful colourful flowers is not over. But I will not have to worry about farming them any more. I still peer into the flowers in the florists to gauge the quality of the flowers - we still see diseased flowers about. Some of them would never have been sent out from Gough Hill Farm - but others seem to find a place for them in their product for market.

I do miss not having my flowers in the house - although having been in China for nearly five months, and going back again, I'll have to find another way to enjoy fresh flowers in my loungeroom.

Who knows what the future holds???

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Gerberas in Shanghai

I was thrilled when in China to see so many Gerberas in flower shops and they were used considerably in flower arrangements. But this story really fascinates me.

When MM was arranging accomodation in Shanghai - I was completing my contract in the college in China and we were to spend one week in Shanghai. MM had travelled to meet me there.

I remember the first time I saw the Gerberas they were on the breakfast table. Just one flower in an interesting vase. Then I noticed them on the reception desk in an arrangement, and later, in a "watermark" in the menu in the restaurant. In fact Gerberas were featured throughout the apartments - and it was a strange feeling to try and comprehend how this coincidence happened.

Of all the flowers in China, how extra ordinary!

I would recommend the apartments for anyone wishing to stay in Shanghai. It was great to have a little space, rather than be cooped up in a small hotel room. We actually had two bedrooms, a lovely kitchen which we didn't use (there were no plates, cutlery, or other utensils so not much point! Even a teaspoon to stir coffee would have been nice!)

There was a good heated pool, a rather nice restaurant with good breakfasts and meals throughout the day, and best of all, it was not far from the Nanjing Walking Street and the centre of Shanghai.

For more information on the hotel and to book, click here.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Gerberas in China

I was out with a student yesterday, in the city. We had to wait for her dorm friends near the Shaoxing Women's and Children's Hospital so there were a lot of florists there. Hospital visitors spend a lot of money getting elaborate gifts of flowers, food, and toys (no doubt for new mothers) in these shops.

I was interested in the Gerberas of course - and was trying to find out the Chinese name for Gerbera - but was out of luck. Couldn't fathom it out.

There was an arrangement of yellow and white christanthemums on a cane stand. My student friend just said. "These are for a dead man." No further explanation.

The flowers are spectacular - lots of Oriental lilies, and roses, and strelizia. Wonderful arrangements. But they don't seem to use wires with their gerberas.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


When I arrived in China a few weeks ago I was surprised to see acres and acres of small hothouses or greenhouses. It appears that many vegetables are grown under plastic tunnels just like the hothouse we grow Gerberas in.
I did not get an opportunity to take a photo from the bus on that occasion, but I found right next to my apartment that the college gardeners have a few plastic covered domes. They are not the quality of plastic over them as we have in Australia - and the structure is rather fragile compared to ours, but that is what they are doing with them.
There is a small garden hidden behind a hedge beside our apartment block, and I took this photo which shows the college apartment block right behind. I can just see a little of the garden from my loungeroom window.
The gardeners here seem to be older men and women and they work tirelessly to keep the massive gardens at the college in order. They ride tricycles pulling their carts, or just tie the cart to the body and run, like a horse pulling the cart.

Monday, March 10, 2008

English word for Gerbera in China.

I'm still looking but know that this flower is indeed popular in China. I see it in magazines, and I see many in florist shops here. Sadly no one in the florist shop seems to speak English, but one day I will find a student to go with me and interpret. I'd love to know what they call it here.

The flowers are somewhat different to the ones we grow in Brisbane - I think they are slightly different because they are grown in this very cold climate with some heating. But I need to check.

I notice with the Chinese government's meeting (National Peoples' Congress) at the moment, that some of the floral arrangements have colourful gerberas in them, as well as Asiatic Lilies.

What I have noticed is the large numbers of what I would call "strange" arrangements with cane and gerberas. The cane contraption is about 4 - 5 feet high, and at several points there is a block of green "oasis" - and there are ribbons, and gerbera flowers and greenery. Shops seem to have these "arrangements" on either side of their door for a special event, perhaps a sale, or opening or launch of new products. By the time I have seen them they are pretty sad and sorry, with the flowers hanging limply from the oasis, which is not in water or any container.

Perhaps they are expensive. Perhaps they are not. Sadly they look very dreary when I see them.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Gerberas in China

I am now living in China - for about four and a half months. I'm keen to see waht flowers are used and grown here for the florist market.

In the days that I have visited the city of Shaoxing I have seen florists as we drive by in the bus, but only last night did I actually see one up close!

Of course they have what we call Gerberas, but I am yet to find out what they are called here. One of the florists had a small table in the street (if was after dusk), and was making an arrangement. I noticed that they used "cups" to transport the flowers, just like we do in Australia, but the "cups" are made of paper, not plastic. There seemed to be some with silver foil, and others just white paper.

We were on our way to a restaurant with a group of teachers from here, so I did not get a chance to stop and have a closer look. Another time.

There is a big market in the centre of Shaoxing that has plants, flowers, etc and one day next week I hope to visit it - I'd love to have some flowers in my very bare apartment.