The kingdom of orchids: Taiwan

The vertical garden, Orchid Waltz, is erected by French botanist Mr. Patrick Blanc in the National Theater in December 2009 in Taipei.
A close-up of Patrick Blanc's brainchild, Orchid Waltz, which utilizes both Taiwan native species and hybrids.
French artistic botanist Patrick Blanc believes plants should be treated as humans.

The vertical garden, Orchid Waltz, is erected by French botanist Mr. Patrick Blanc in the National Theater in December 2009 in Taipei.

A close-up of Patrick Blanc's brainchild, Orchid Waltz, which utilizes both Taiwan native species and hybrids.

French artistic botanist Patrick Blanc believes plants should be treated as humans.

Walking on the streets of Europe, the romantic air may give you an urge to have a bunch of flowers in hand. Chances are that if you walk into a flower shop and buy a bouquet of orchids-they will have been imported from Taiwan.
In Taiwan, annual production of Taiwan Phalaenopsis sp. amounts to NT$3 billion to 4 billion (US$100-130 million), with most of the output exported to Japan, the U.S., China and Europe.
Located in the subtropics and surrounded by warm waters, Taiwan is an ideal place to grow many different kinds of flowers, especially orchids, and has earned the nickname of the "kingdom of orchids."
Phalaenopsis is the most popular of all orchid species. The flower's name means "looking like a butterfly," as its scientific name implies: in Greek, Phalaen- means "butterfly," and opsis means "looking like." Due to its lovely shape and colors, the Taiwanese have a special fondness for this butterfly-like flower, calling it the queen of orchids.
In Taiwan, there are two native species of Phalaenopsis-Phalaenopsis amabilis var. formosana and Phalaenopsis equestris Schauer Rchb.F. Adapted to temperatures between 18劍 and 25劍, they are frequently found in mountainous areas below 800m altitude in the early days.
The former species won the championship at the International National Orchid Show in 1952 and 1953. It is distinguished by its white blossoms and is originated in Dawu, Lanyu and Hengchun, Pingtung.
The latter species originated on Little Lanyu Island and has small pink buds around 3cm in diameter. Its flowering season is between April and May each year. Neither species is easily found in the wild now due to changes in the forest habitat, environmental destruction and over-exploitation in recent years.
Such destruction has put Taiwan's native species on the brink of extinction, and currently they can only be found in profit-making or experimental units. To tackle such problems, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), aka the Washington Convention, was signed in 1973 to regulate international wildlife and plant trade, taking effect in July 1975.
These days the flower industry has developed into a leading agricultural sector in Taiwan as people start to pay more attention to environmental beautification. And in order to adapt to increasingly dense human communities, a new method of growing and display called vertical gardening has emerged.
Vertical greenery is a chic
Greenery decoration in urban areas can help economize on space if planted in a vertical direction. Renowned French botanist Patrick Blanc is famed for such innovation and has recently created two green walls in the National Theater in Taipei.
Dedicated Dec. 11, Blanc's brainchild "Orchid Waltz" is a perfect symbol of Taiwan's orchid industry.
"'Orchid Waltz' is made up of two separate green walls: one displays Taiwan's native species, and the other demonstrates Taiwan's technological advances," said Blanc.
The green wall called "The Butterfly Dance" features 46 hybrid species of orchids for a total of 250 plants, along with 2,000 Adiantums. The other wall, titled "The Wild Dance," utilizes 25 species of Taiwan native orchids for around 230 plants and nine other kinds of foliage plants, a total of 2,900.
The plants grow in small pockets of felt-like plastic and are irrigated through a system of plastic pipes that distribute a nutrient solution.
"Mr. Blanc treats plants like human beings. I was moved to see him create a conversation between humans and plants," noted National Theater Concert Hall (NTCH) Chairperson Tchen Yu-chiou. Tchen was the driving force behind the international cooperation project that brought Mr. Blanc to Taiwan.
"Orchid Waltz" is another step in Tchen's ongoing quest to make art a part of daily life. Asked how the idea emerged, she responded that when she participated in the opening ceremony of the Musee du Quai Branly in France, she was captivated by Patrick Blanc's work.
Musee du Quai Branly features indigenous art, cultures and civilization.
Blanc covered part of the museum's exterior surface with aquariums, filled with the most original plants in the world. "He echoed the original connection between plants and humankind," said Tchen.
The idea of setting up such green walls at NTCH struck Tchen, and she invited Blanc to design "Green Symphony" for the National Concert Hall in October 2007.
"The plants grow very well and we often receive compliments from the general public," she says, "so I decided to invite Mr. Blanc to design another green wall for the National Theater."
"A vertical garden for me is a kind of artistic expression," said the 56-year-old Blanc. Asked whether he ever grew tired of continual projects dealing with plants, he answered firmly, "Never, every commission is a new challenge for me and I will never grow tired of it."
Patrick Blanc was born in Paris in 1953. As a child he was obsessed with aquariums and has dedicated his life to plant study. "Plants are like people, they're living things," he said.
That is pretty much the way Taiwan's flora industry has developed. The industry's history can be divided into three phases. Prior to the 1970s the area planted in flowers totaled only 234 hectares and overall annual market value was around NT$53 million.
The first institute for flower promotion and propagation, the Taiwan Flower Development Association, was founded in 1972. By 1978 flower planted areas had grown to 1,200 hectares and the market value had soared to NT$400 million.
In the second extended phase, the Taiwan Flower Export Industry Association was set up in 1981. TFEIA serves as a consulting unit for flower exporters. With its establishment, Taiwan's domestic flower industry can now receive first-hand market information.
In 1993 the Taipei Flower Auction Co., Ltd., built Taiwan's first floral bouquet exhibition room, turning over a new leaf in the bouquet trading history of Taiwan. In January 1995 the Taichung Flower Wholesale Market was founded, commencing an age of heightened competition in the flower wholesale market.
Taiwan's flower industry has thrived with the passage of time, and in 1999, the domestic flower planted area had expanded to 10,848 hectares.
In March 1994, Taiwan hosted the 8th Asia Pacific Orchid Exhibition, a show which set a record with more than 150,000 visitors in ten days. The following year Taiwan participated in the Dubai Flower Trade Show, marking the debut of Taiwan's floral industry in the Middle Eastern market.
Taipei to hold 2010 Int'l Flora Expo
Numerous floral and garden expositions have been held around the world in the second half of the 20th century. The host country uses the event to demonstrate its competitiveness in the gardening industry as well as its ability to organize an international program.
Taiwan is no exception and will host the Taipei International Flora Expo in 2010. This will be the first international exposition approved by the International Association of Horticultural Producers ever to be held in Taiwan.
Scheduled from Nov. 6, 2010, to April 25, 2011, the 2010 Taipei Flora Expo is expected to attract an estimated more than six million visitors and will bring overall economic benefits exceeding NT$11 billion (US$330 million).
The Expo is organized based on three concepts. First of all, it is aimed at presenting the essence of garden, technology and environmental protection. Second, it is aimed at achieving greater awareness of carbon emission reduction and the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle). The third aim is to create a green life which combines art and culture.
The 2010 Taipei Flora Expo is expected to promote and popularize greenery among the public, seeking to reverse the stereotype of Taipei as a crowded and cold city and guiding visitors in experiencing a feast for the eyes.

Updated : 2021-03-06 19:44 GMT+08:00