Zheng Shaofeng, a 64-year-old flower farmer from Central China's Henan Province, has dreamed of smelling tulips from the Netherlands or orchids from Singapore without the need to fly thousands of miles to do so.
Now, the ongoing Beijing International Horticultural Exhibition, which opened on April 28, is making his dream a reality at the foot of the Great Wall.
In addition to beautifully scented flowers, the expo also has a huge collection of herbs, flowers and eye-catching pavilions.
Kingdom of plants
According to the organizer, more than 20,000 plants spanning 1,000 types from across the globe are on display at the expo, including over 100 rare species.
"This is a precious opportunity to enjoy the beauty of nature which I can't miss out on," said Zheng, who has long been interested in exotic flowers and plants but never had the chance to see them in person.
Like the flower farmer, more than 320,000 tourists from home and abroad visited the horticultural gala during the just-concluded four-day May Day holiday. In their eyes, the expo's theme "Live green, live better" has been embodied in the designs of every corner of the site.
At the center of the site stands the China Pavilion, a curved exhibition hall in the shape of "ruyi," a traditional Chinese ornament symbolizing good fortune. Displaying a wide variety of flower and plant species from all over the country, it received more than 172,000 tourists during the holiday, making it one of the most popular attractions at the expo.
To its southwest, tourists were lining up at the Plant Pavilion, another one of four main pavilions where rare plants including red sandalwood and ficus variegata were flourishing in their new home, a 20-meter-high greenhouse that covers 3,000 square meters.
"Across the expo, the air has a heaviness of flowers' captivating scent," Zheng said.
In the Singapore Pavilion, more than 2,000 orchids, the national flower of the tropical country, were exhibited in a giant plastic tent.
To keep them under necessary temperature conditions, 20 different heaters were installed along the sides of the garden which can automatically turn on when the temperature dips below 20 degrees, and when it's too hot, all the sides will unfurl while the blinds on the top will shield plants, according to Jason Wright, the lead designer of the pavilion.
"Wandering in the pavilion makes me feel like I'm on a journey to Singapore's gardening culture," said a Chinese visitor surnamed Ma.
The beauty of nature was displayed thanks to the exquisite designs, echoing global wisdom on green development.
With a theme of "seeding the future," the German Pavilion presents how green initiatives and projects helped restore the environment after pollution, with pictures and videos highlighting the historic changes to Essen city, the Emscher River and the buffer zone of the inner-German border.
By having buildings surrounded by big screens, the basic message is that cities should be a greener and healthier place to live, said Anthony De Taranto, architect of the German Pavilion. "Future cities should grow like trees, with a lot of green," he said.
Actually, organizers have implemented China's eco-friendly concept throughout the exhibition's preparation work.
For instance, more than 1,000 photovoltaic glass panels have been installed on the roof of the Chinese Pavilion to utilize solar energy.
A rainwater collection system and a storage pond underground are used to irrigate the terrace field on which the pavilion is based.
During the construction of the site, 50,000 existing trees were preserved and over 100,000 trees and shrubs were planted to improve the conditions of wetlands, purify water and provide habitats for migratory birds.
For example, to protect the 15-meter-tall willows lining the road to the Horticultural Life Experience Pavilion, designers adjusted foundation heights of the nearby buildings to better suit the tall trees.
Hailing China's efforts on providing the world an excellent expo, Tim Briercliffe, secretary general of the International Association of Horticultural Producers, said the Beijing Expo 2019 will become an important milestone in the expo's history.
"This will be an unmissable event for anyone in the horticulture industry and for anyone who cares about how people can live in harmony with the environment," said Briercliffe.