Dr. Lomino in China: March 9
MARCH 9: Children Meet South China’s Flora
One of the places I’ve wanted to visit is the South China Botanical Garden, and I’m excited that for Community Day, this is where we are taking the children!
After breakfast on the buses, parked at the entrance gate, the children unload and are immediately enveloped in the cutest rain jackets I’ve ever seen. We had a heavy rain last night, but so far this morning it’s not much more than a drizzle. But just in case the rain gear was brought along. The jackets are plastic with clear visors on the hoods and a special bumped out section on the backs to accommodate backpacks. All are imprinted with animal characters. Very clever!
It is a long walk down a palm-lined road to the greenhouse exhibits. The first display is an Asian Rain Forest, with stairs leading up several levels. It is a captivating exhibit with tropical pools and waterfall under a thick, green forest canopy. If there had been birds and animals around, I would have thought I was actually in the rain forest.
We moved from the humid rain forest to a very dry desert exhibit. It think the children enjoyed seeing the amazing variety of cacti even more than the rain forest. They were enthralled with the variety of shapes and sizes, and all with thorns to match. The visit concluded with a sub-alpine exhibit containing flowers that are much more familiar to me including lupine, azaleas, and spring ephemerals. I think the continuous walking and lateness of the morning is too much for the youngest of the group. There is a good amount of crying and unhappiness on the walk back to the buses. We enter the forest after 12:30, so it is past lunch time and naps will be delayed as well. But we are in the Forest—this is my element and I believe it is for the children too.
Today’s Insight: The diversity of life in China is dazzling, but unfortunately because this city is expanding so quickly, many species of plants and animals are disappearing locally. Habitat loss is a global problem. I have seen the statistics many times, but to see it firsthand is truly frightening. It makes Forest Kindergarten and my personal mission to promote nature education for early childhood even more urgent!