In the afternoon we were invited to visit Zhenque Garden, owned by Mr. Li. Again, there were large bonsai and even larger larger garden stones. The garden surrounded a pond. As we looked at the trees I suddenly realized that most of the trees are Podocarpus, or Buddhist pines which are quite expensive in China. Six years ago the Chinese government invited me, a Greek American to travel to China to teach Japanese bonsai. I asked for a Podocarpus or Pomegranate to work on but was told they did not grow there. Well, when I got there Podocarpus were all over the place and was then told they were too expensive for demonstrations.
Unusual soil treatment
Very large granules of soil
Reddish new growth, much brighter during other seasons
There were Podocarpus in all sizes, except small, in every style imaginable and other interesting forms as well. Mr. Li specializes in Podocarpus and has selected two new varieties which have bright red foliage when opening, and they are colorful four times a year. Unfortunately, we were not there at the height of the colorful season, but did find a few reddish new growth on some specimens. One of the other visitors there took me inside to show me the actual registration certificates for the two new cultivars.
We were offered bananas and more bananas and even more during our visit. Dusk arrived quickly and Mr. Li hosted a dinner party for us which included many government and penjing officials. There were many long speeches in Chinese and one brief speech by me in English representing the foreign guests. Soon there was singing and dancing and everyone had a wonderful evening. The humidity was quite high and I checked the temperature which was 97F!! Sweat was dripping from most peoples heads and we were refreshed in the air conditioned bus.
The next morning we were flown to Xi’an a northern Chinese city where the forum was to be held and also to visit the famous 3,000 year old terra cotta soldiers.