Flower cultivation in China has a history of over 2,700 years. From the earliest times, flowers have been cultivated that blossom throughout the year-numerous species in the springtime, lotus flowers in the summertime, forest-defying chrysanthemums in autumn and winter sweets in winter.
As in the rest of China, flower cultivation in Beijing has a long history, having begun in the Yuan Dynasty, more than 700 years ago. The principal flower-raising area was known as the “Eighteen Villages if Fengtai” located around Caoqiao (Crass Bridge), Huangtugang (Yellow Earth Hill) and the Family Village in the Fengtai District.
In late Yuan Dynasty, flower cultivation was highly developed, and during the Ming and Qing dynasties there was not a single imperial palace, prince’s mansion, official’s residence, villa or park in Beijing where flowers were not grown. At this time, the area around Fengtai and Caoqiao thrived. According to historical records “Lotus ponds scented the air for miles around.” Flower merchants “by the hundreds and thousands streamed through the city gates every morning.”
The nursery district has always provided a wide variety of flowers throughout the year. The Yanjing Annals records the cultivation of 300 types of chrysanthemums along, and it is said that the flower growers would build a “mountain of chrysanthemums” when displaying the potted flowers to the public.
Beijing’s horticulturists possessed considerable technical skill and developed techniques for forcing flowers and shrubs out of season. Peonies were blossoming at the Temple of Heaven and at the Fangshan Mountain Temple as early as March. Nurserymen in the Caoqiao region forced peonies with the warmth of their heated brick beds to supply the imperial palaces with fine specimens in the middle of November. From December to February, the imperial family enjoyed flowers of all seasons-peonies, plum blossoms, red peach blossoms, osmanthus and primulas.
Since 1949, horticulture has developed very rapidly. The Huangtugang Commune now manages 120 hectares of flowerbeds and over 2,800 hothouses mental trees. The area not only supplies Beijing, but also sends flowers and 500,000 cut sales totaled 300,000 potted flowers and 500,000 cut flowers. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic in 1959, nurserymen supplied to decorate Tian’ anmen Square and East and West Chang’ an boulevards. By 1969, the flower district had under cultivation over 13 hectares of rose beds along, 10,000 pots of osmanthus, 50,000 pots of magnolias, camellias and jasmine and several hundred thousand pots of chrysanthemums, as well as thousands of pine, pomegranate and iron trees.
Since the implementation of the reform and open policy in 1979, and as the living standards of the Chinese people have increased greatly, the Huangtugang flower cultivation has expanded. At the same time many fresh flower companies and shops have been established to handle deals of fresh flowers and potted plants.