Shilin Residence Park’s Horticultural Sculptures, Taipei

The garden’s flower fairy

photography by: Omri Westmark

Reading time:

What was once the official residence of the founder of modern-day Taiwan and his wife turned in the mid 1990’s into a series of well-kept gardens, attracting city dwellers from all walks of life. While each and every section of the park offers something to marvel at, it is the Environment Park and its floral statues which truly set it apart from other green lungs across Taipei.

Following the Chinese Civil War and the subsequent defeat of the Kuomintang, its leader, Chiang Kai-shek alongside hundreds of thousands of his loyalists fled to Formosa, where they reestablished the Republic of China. As the nascent nation sought to lay the groundwork for governance over the island, several administrative buildings were erected throughout the Taiwanese capital.

 

One of which, was the official residence of Kai-Shek and his wife, Soong Mei-ling, located at Shilin District, in the northern parts of Taipei. Originally functioning as a horticultural experimental center, the house and its surroundings were repurposed into a heavily fortified complex, becoming off-limits to the public.

 

In 1996, more than 20 years after Chiang Kai-shek passed away, the area around his residence was reopened to all earthlings. As of today, the 9.28-hectare park is home to a rose garden, an orchid greenhouse, a European-style garden, a Chinese-style rock garden and perhaps most notably, a slew of art-installations, made almost entirely of plants.

 

These horticultural sculptures were originally created as part of a flower exhibition that took place throughout the verdant premises. While some of the artworks were replaced by others the next year, a select few were permanently integrated into the park’s botanical showcase, at least for the time being.

 

Conspicuous by her flamboyance is the winged fairy, who has been here for a couple of years now. Proudly hoisting a magic wand, the blond-haired maiden is roughly 10 meter tall, with her torso and 15-meter-wide skirt comprised of a whopping 15,000 individual plants, including soleirolia, bilberry and jade dragon grass, to name just a few. A couple of meters away is a floral sculpture featuring a piano-playing butterfly (originally having a giraffe as the pianist).

 

Since the park hosts various flower exhibitions each year, the most famous of which are the chrysanthemum and tulip festivals, its scenery never stays static for too long. In fact, even the aforementioned year-long artworks keep evolving, adorned with different types of flowers every couple of months or so.