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Beijing breeds new flowers for 2008 Olympics
By Li Jing (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-08-23 09:28

Beijing's gardeners are busy breeding new varities of flowers to ensure that the city is in full bloom when it hosts the 2008 Olympic Games.

More than 600 varieties are being bred at a nursery near the Fragrant Hill, half an hour's drive west of Beijing.

Horticulturists will choose some of the flowers to be cultivated around the city next year to evaluate their performance, said Zhang Lannian, head of the research group for the introduction of new flower breeds.

The research group was launched last year to address the problem that only a few domestic flowers blossom during summer due to high temperatures and high humidity in the capital.

Zhang said the most important criterion for choosing the flowers is whether they can bloom between July and September, when the 2008 Games are expected to be held.

About 5 million pots of flowers will be planted in gardens and along streets around the city over the next couple of years to test whether they can adapt to the local climate, said Zhang.

A three-year-long evaluation of the flowers' performance is needed before the final decision of what kinds of flowers will be used during the 2008 Olympic Games.

Wang Zhongying, a press official with the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Parks, said some 40 genera of Olympic flower candidates, including Malus spectabilis, the Chinese rose and mint flowers, have already grown in a park in Xuanwu District and along some sections of the Third Ring Road.

Most of the flowers being bred were introduced from other domestic and foreign cities, highlighting the need for better flower breeding skills in Beijing.

She mentioned that the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Urban Plan-ning issued a notice last month to urge her bureau and related organs to give prominence to locally raised flowers when choosing flowers for the 2008 Olympic Games.

The notice is in response to an appeal made by several researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences who suggested caution with regard to alien plant species being introduced to the Chinese capital.

Jiang Gaoming, one of the researchers, said the city could lose its traditional features if its plants are dominated by imported species.

Wang said garden scientists are also hunting around on the outskirts of Beijing to find some unnamed flowers and trying to foster new breeds from them.

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