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Qingdao ready to blossom for the 'flower Olympics'
QINGDAO City in Shandong Province started its two-year countdown to the 2014 Qingdao International Horticultural Exposition by beginning a new round of construction at the Expo Park earlier this month.
Known as the "Olympic Games of the Horticultural World," the non-trade global exhibition is aimed at promoting economic, cultural and technological exchanges between countries around the world.
The event is approved by the Bureau of International Expositions and the Association Internationale des producteurs de 1'Horticulture.
Themed "From the Earth, for the Earth," the Qingdao Expo will be held from April to October in 2014 at Baiguo Mountain Forest Park. Organizers estimate it will attract approximately 12 million visitors to the coastal city during the six-month event.
As a hilly city, Qingdao also enjoys an 863-kilometer coastline, dotted with capes and bays. Surrounded by sea and mountains, the city is famed for its beautiful scenery, including the magnificent coastline, Laoshan Mountain, the urban landscape featuring red roofs and Europeanstyle architecture.
The local government hopes the 2014 Expo can boost the city's economy, speed up its development and provide a new platform for Qingdao to present itself to the international community.
Construction at Expo Park is now in full swing. In March 2011, construction of roads near the park started. Last September, construction began on the facilities. Earlier this month, a new round of work began.
The whole project is scheduled to be completed by October 2013. So far, 20 out of 27 roads and a total of 45 kilometers of pipelines are under construction.
The Expo Park is designed to cover 241 hectares - 164 for the Themed Area and 77 for the Experience Area.
The overall blueprint calls for "two axes and 12 zones." The two axes are the flower axis running from south to north and the tree axis from east to west.
The 12 zones are in the two areas. In the Themed Area, there will be gardens to showcase ancient Chinese civilizations and the latest agricultural technology, various flowers, grass and trees, as well as a funzone for children.
In the Experience Area, pavilions featuring tea tasting, flora planting and agricultural products will be built.
The two reservoirs in the Forest Park are named "water from heaven" and "pond of the land."
The flora gala will be highlighted with courtyards, flowerbeds, sculptures, bonsai, waterscapes, gardening and plants with regional cultural features, as well as numerous parks and open space.
Meanwhile, visitors can also enjoy many rare flowers and plants at the half-year expo.
The design is inspired by the Chinese fairy tale of seven goddesses.
According to a legend, the Jade Emperor, the supreme ruler of heaven, had seven daughters who represented the seven colors of a rainbow - red, cyan, blue, orange, purple, yellow and green.
It was said they were all neat freaks. One of their biggest hobbies was to fly down from the sky to look for beautiful lakes and rivers on Earth, where they take baths.
The Expo Park, inspired by the story, is divided into seven functional zones, each with a color of the rainbow.
The red zone will display ancient Chinese culture and civilization. Each province and region, including Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, will set up a display in the red zone to show their featured flora and agricultural products. At the same time, cities in Shandong Province will also have a chance to create a display in the zone.
The orange zone, themed "flowers, creativity and the sea of green," will feature an indoor botanical garden, a gardening exhibition hall and a flower fragrance kiosk, where visitors can see and smell various rare species.
The yellow zone will be dominated by green plants. Based on the traditional Chinese medicine bible "Ben Cao Gang Mu," or "Compendium of Materia Medica," the zone will display a wide range of medicinal herbs. This is also an opportunity for humanity to thank nature for all of its wonders.
The green zone is for children. It will be turned into a fairyland where kids can play while learning more about plants and flowers.
The cyan zone features the latest technology to present the marvelous world of flowers.
The blue zone will showcase how a low-carbon future can be created, while the purple zone will exhibit exotic flowers and plants from all over the world.
This area is centered around the four seasons.
Built on a hill, the Mountain and Land Park will be transformed into a place for a nice walk in a lush forest.
A tea-tasting garden will feature fragrant tea leaves grown in Qingdao. Visitors can pick the leaves. Local tea farmers will also teach you how to taste the tea.
In the Agriculture Pavilion, a wide range of Qingdao specialty fruits and vegetables will be on offer. A big screen shows visitors how a tiny seed planted in spring matures into a ripe fruit in autumn.
The flower center will exhibit some rare Shandong flowers. It will also become a flower trading market in future.
Xi'an City in Shaanxi Province held the expo last year while Kunming City in Yunnan Province was the host in 1999. Jinzhou in Liaoning Province will host it next year and Tangshan City in Hebei Province will do so in 2016.