I look forward to Taiwan’s spring flower festivals each and every year, but my favorite by far is Taiwan’s Calla Lily Festival on Yangming Mountain. I’ve been to a number of different calla lily farms in Taiwan and I just love wandering through rich, green fields of white trumpet blossoms.
We’ve lived here for over six years now and we have attended Taiwan’s Spring Flower Festival and the Calla Lily Festival on Yangming Mountain each year. These flower festivals are one of many reasons why I love living in Taipei. There is always something going on, and having easy access to a beautiful volcanic mountain that brims with flowers of every kind, hot springs and walking trails is pretty much the icing on the cake.
This year was even more memorable because I got to share it with my parents in person. I can’t even begin to describe how excited I was to take them to a festival. My mother and grandmother are both green thumbs, and some of my fondest and earliest childhood memories are of time spent with them learning about the world of nature. I was very young, but I remember my mom taking me out for a walk and telling me the names of the flowers we came across: Queen Anne’s lace, trilliums, tiger lilies and Black Eyed Susans. My mother’s gardens include giant lilac bushes, peony bushes, tulips, irises and wild poppies. It’s hard not to think of my mom when I go to these places in Taiwan because I’ve always wanted to share them with her and I never thought I’d have that chance. These flower festivals are a very unique part of Taiwan and the experience of walking the beautiful landscaped trails of Yangming Mountain and wandering through giant fields of calla lilies is an experience that I wanted her to take home.
We stopped at our favorite spot in Yang Ming Park (Houshan Park) first. This area is cool and shaded from the hot sun and it’s an excellent place to start at if you’re going here early in the afternoon. Most of the cherry blossoms were gone, but there were still plenty of azaleas in bloom. (March is the time to go if you want to see the cherry blossoms.)
Next up was the beautiful koi and turtle pond at Guangfu Building, a Northern Chinese palace style building that was built in 1971 to commemorate the Xinhai Revolution. There’s a snack store and several souvenir shops inside the building, but we were more interested in watching the dozens of brightly colored koi swimming lazily in the warm water. It seems that this young duck was just as entranced as I was!
Once we’d finished wandering around the area, we packed up and moved on to Zhuzihu Valley, otherwise known as Bamboo Lake. It’s one of the few places in Taiwan where calla lilies can be cultivated. The cool mountain air and natural mountain spring water of Zhuzihu Valley produce over 90% of Taiwan’s calla lily market.
In early spring, the calla lily farms around Bamboo Lake become one of the main attractions for visitors, who pay around $3USD to pick a bouquet of eight long-stemmed flowers. With more than 30 calla lily farms in the area, it’s easily one of the most popular tourist venues in Taiwan, attracting more than half a million visitors each year.
This year we found a new farm to visit. The family who owned the farm have opened a cute little coffee shop called Caffee Alto International. The shop is filled with hand-made stone vases, flower displays, and calla lilies.
They’ve also created a beautiful little spot to enjoy flower-viewing. Grab a coffee and sit outside on their beautiful wood patio overlooking the fields. John and Dad seemed quite content to sit back and us pick our own flowers, and my mother discovered that picking calla lilies is more difficult than it looks. Despite the careful instructions that the owner gave us, we still managed to break a few flower stalks.
The sun was setting fast as we picked our last blossom and bundled up our treasures to head home for the evening, but we left feeling revived from the fresh mountain air. It’s hard not to have a smile on your face when you’ve got a beautiful bouquet of calla lilies to take home with you.
Thanks again, Taiwan, for such an excellent day!
For more information on Taiwan’s flower festivals, please read this article that I wrote for Culture.Tw called Spring Flower Viewing on Yangminshan.