Pumpkins Aloft! A Tour of Zhuhai’s Agricultural Garden

On the map of Zhuhai, there’s a spot in the northwest that we’ve always wanted to visit: the “Marvelous Agriculture Center.”  It’s up near the Meixi Arches and theoretically, one could visit both locations in one day.  The weather looked promising, so Joel and I headed out to explore.  We started on the 69 bus (our old standby) and switched to the 26 near the Aeon stop.  (Admittedly, we could have transferred sooner, but I wanted an iced mocha from my favorite drink stand near the Aeon bus stop.)

On our bus ride, we met two ladies who were visiting China.  They were Chinese-Australian and headed to the botanical garden as well.  It was lovely to have translators as we searched out the place!  The entrance was a good 100m away from the bus stop, around a corner, and not readily identifiable.  Same old, same old.  But once we walked up the little dirt road, we knew we were in the right place.  Admission was 30 yuan per person; quite reasonable.

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Cycads make brilliant toppers for giant carrot statues. Very clever.
One of the well-manicured gardens.
One of the well-manicured gardens.

By far, the highlight was the Rare Gourds Garden.  A common sight throughout the garden was the trellising of vegetables that we normally grow on the ground.  But this was at its most remarkable when we walked into the Rare Gourds greenhouse and saw huge pumpkins dangling over our heads!

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Juggling pumpkins.
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Gourds aloft.
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Tempting fate.
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The squash jokes just make themselves, really.
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The giant pumpkins were too heavy for a trellis and had to be grown in the Huge Pumpkin Garden.
Can't wait for Halloween.
Can’t wait for Halloween.

In addition to dangling gourds, there were many other impressive vegetable greenhouses.  The Tree Crops Garden showcased an enormous cherry tomato plant that created a beautiful, shady arbor.

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All that stuff over Joel’s head is one cherry tomato plant–you can see the spindly little stem in the round planter.
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Tomato ceiling.

The botanical garden, like so many sites in Zhuhai, feels like it was built for a grander purpose.  Some of the greenhouses were incredible, but others were a bit neglected.  Everything was well labeled (in Chinese, with Latin scientific names).  The grounds could have been better kept and one of the gardens on the map was just a flat patch of weeds.  I’ve become accustomed to the treatment of animals in China, but it was tough to see some of the animals languishing in small cages at the Small Animal Center.

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Poor monkey with a chain around its neck.
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We preferred the immobile animals.
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The desert diorama lost a camel in a tragic accident.

It would have been a lovely place for a picnic, and I mean that on two counts: first, because there were many quiet, shady little corners with benches, and also because they didn’t really sell food on-site.  And we were hungry!  We settled on ice cream from the small convenience shop.

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In the name of science: Joel’s fish ice cream measures up to his angler fish t-shirt.
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The verdict: an ice cream cone pressed into the shape of a fish, with mango (?) flavored ice cream and a thin layer of red bean paste, all sandwiched inside the shell.

The last place we visited was the Beancurd Production Area.  (That’s tofu.)  Two little kids and their mom were giving it a shot.

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Dry beans and water are poured in the top, then you spin the crank to grind them into soy milk.
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Later, the soy milk would be poured into wooden molds like this to produce the classic square tofu blocks.

Turns out, getting rid of cucumbers is a global problem.  These were at the entrance/exit gate.

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Please buy our cucumbers…please?





2 thoughts on “Pumpkins Aloft! A Tour of Zhuhai’s Agricultural Garden”

  1. Susie, you must have been in total heaven in this place! I’m amazed you could control yourself around so many pumpkins… Did you guys feel like you were in a Tim Burton film?

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