An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

March 5, 2016

LanternAsia

     For the past month the Norfolk Botanical Garden, where I work, has been closed to the public while a show called LaternAsia has been set up. Late in January shipping containers began arriving and were unpacked into a massive, seemingly disorderly, colorful pile in our parking lot. A week or so afterwards, Chinese nationals moved into the garden, living out of our cafe, as well as in several campers set up in the horticulture compound. The first things they built were a giant tented workshop in the parking lot, and a cooking tent; they brought their own chef too. Next they made order out of that chaotic pile, and turned silk, wire, wood, steel, and glue into something very special. Working from sunup to sundown, in rain, cold, and even snow, it was amazing watching how they transformed the garden. I would leave work in the afternoon at my normal 3:30, and by the next morning a temple would have been constructed or a menagerie would show up where the day before was just turf. I was able to enjoy the show on Thursday when it was opened just for employees, their families, and friends. Today the show opens to the general public, and the garden itself reopens as well. I must say I have missed seeing our guests in the garden, but after watching the construction process, I can understand why we had to temporarily close. Once people see the show, I also hope they will agree the wait was worth it.
Butterfly Colonnade

Main Gate (4)

Tulips

Lilies

Flower Lanterns

Swans (4)

Thai Dragon

     I think the most impressive structure is the Porcelain Pagoda, made from tens of thousands porcelain spoons, bowls, cups, saucers, and plates, all of which were individually attached by hand to pieces of armature. These armatures were then craned into place creating a complete structure that is 3-4 stories tall.
Porcelain Pagoda

Porcelain Pagoda (2)

Elephants

Tigers

Taj Mahal (1)

     It is hard to tell from the photo, but this dragon is over 200' long and the head is over 20' tall.
The Dragon (2)

Qilin

Fan

Panda Playground (2)

Peaches of Immortality

Peace Doves

Japan Fuji Mountain

Moons and Stars

Electric Blue Flowers

     LanternAsia runs through the end of April, and unlike our holiday light show it is a walk-through. Speaking of walking, my Winter Walk-Off is in progress now, and ends on 3/19 at midnight. I am sure some of you would love to take a walk and clear your head. Take your camera with you; I would appreciate more entries.

(If you are interested, there are additional LanternAsia photos on my Flickr page.)

18 comments:

  1. Wow! So what happens when it's over? Can these structured be reused or are they dismantled and what can be recycled is and that's that?

    BTW I started out, camera in hand, the other day...for a walk. I got to the end of the block and it started pouring. I returned home. Surely there will be another dry day soon...

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    1. Loree, they will remove all of the silk, break down the armatures, un-string the lights, and pack the whole thing back into shipping containers to be sent to the next show.

      Surely there will be a dry day, and I will look forward to your Walk-Off entry.

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  2. Wow! This must be an extremely popular display. We saw something similar at the Montreal Bontanic Garden, though they didn't have a Porcelain Pagoda!

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    1. Jason, we sure hope it is going to be popular.

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  3. Local Ecologist | GeorgiaMarch 05, 2016 8:29 PM

    I checked out the garden's website -- this show is definitely worth attending at night. I won't be able to so I'm glad you have shared your photos of this exhibit with us.

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    1. Georgia, the same company will soon be setting up another show in Philly to open in late April, certainly closer to you.

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  4. Magical. Thank you so much for sharing this. I know watching it go up has been amazing.

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    1. Yes, it was fun watching the whole thing come together.

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  5. I get excited over the holiday light show at the zoo, but this is in a different sphere all together! Maybe they'll make there way across the country. I'd love to see them set up in Seattle.

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    1. This is the same show that was in Spokane last year, next it moves to Franklin Park in Philly.

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  6. How incredible. It reminds me of the illuminations in the town of Blackpool when I was growing up. I bet they were made in China. The pagodas are spectacular. But where were the monkeys? It was after all the Lunar New Year.

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    1. I had what I thought was a great idea. Wooden red monkey cut-outs that hang from their tails in special trees. Each monkey cut-out would identify the tree and have a little info about it as well. It was not approved.

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  7. This is truly a beautiful, creative and colorful display. It was really worth the wait. It took a lot of work too.

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    1. Yes, it did take a lot of work.

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  8. Your photos are beautiful! The lanterns, not sure I like them. The dragon is cool but some of the constructs look like tourist knick-knacks in a souvenir shop. I'm sure it gives a different impression in person, in the dark...

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    1. I would call it wonderfully tacky.

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  9. Totally extraordinary, must be a magical experience at night. What is it like during the day? Love that they brought their own chef, did they share?!

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    1. Unfortunately they did not share. I know if they made extras and put them in to-go boxes they could make some money on the side. During the day the show is very colorful as well, but better at night.

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