A Study on the Origin of the Name "FLOWER CITY"

BY :Lifeofguangzhou.com

UPDATED :June 16, 2017


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Guangzhou, the "Flower City", is enveloped in the fragrance of flowers all year round. "Flourishing flowers keep the eyes fully occupied" is no doubt a perfect line to describe the way the city impacts people's senses.
The most widely known event addressing Guangzhou's flowers is the yearly Chinese Spring Festival (Chinese Lunar New Year) flower fair. In the mid-Qing Dynasty (around 1800), Guangzhou initiated the world-renowned "Spring Festival Flower Fair". During the three days before New Year's Eve every year, a several-mile-long flower fair was staged in front of today's Guangdong Provincial Department of Finance attracting throngs of people.
With a history of over 200 years, the Spring Festival Flower Fair still flourishes today. In recent years, it has been held in each of Guangzhou's eight administrative districts. There is a nursery rhyme called Walking along the Flower Street that describes the grandeur of the fair. Its lines are as follows: "On the eve of the Spring Festival, I stroll about the flower fair. A great many primroses are put out, lining the street there. The red flowers are fresh, the yellow flowers are big. Thousands of flowers are always there to be seen. Mom smiles, Dad laughs, people and flowers are all joyous……"
Guangzhou was first called "Flower City" in about 950 BC, when around Zhuangtou Village in the south coast of the Pearl River, there were many fields of white frangipani (Suxin in Chinese). Viewed from a distance, this kind of little white flower is similar to jasmine. With a refreshing smell, white frangipani enjoyed quite a reputation for some time in Lingnan. There was even a legend left concerning the competition between white frangipani and  peony for beauty.
Another beautiful story about white frangipani relates to Suxin, the beloved concubine of Emperor Liu Chang of South Han Dynasty (917-971). As a flower grower, Suxin was endowed with dazzling beauty. She loved to wear a white frangipani in her hair, which added to her beauty. After being sent to the harem, Suxin was very much favored by Emperor Liu. But she was not obsessed with the wealth and honor of her position, with tears, she put the white frangipanis sent to her by Liu into the stream every day. The flowers then flowed with the stream into a lake outside the harem residence, winning the lake the reputation of Liuhua (flowing flowers) Lake.
When Suxin died, her corpse was sent back to her hometown. Three days later, the villagers were surprised to find that clusters of little white flowers (white frangipani) grew out of her tomb. In order to commemorate her, that kind of flower was renamed Suxin.

A lot of white frangipanis were then planted around Zhuangtou Village and along the river. The blossoms were picked and sent to the market in Guangzhou (on the north coast of the Pearl River) for sale. They were used to make up as well as to clean the body and maintain good health. A ferry was even especially set up to transport the flowers, all of which is the origin of today's arch "Flowers Ferry" in Guangzhou's Xiaogang Park.
Still now, many roads and streets in Fangcun Village are named after flowers, such as Huanhua Road, Kapok Street, Gladiolus Street, Spring Orchid Street, Lotus Street and Apricot Flower Street. Also, most of the names have a story associated with them.
If you want to fully appreciate the distinctiveness of Flower City, it is strongly advised to go first to the Tianguangxu Flower Fair in Fangcun Village at 5 a.m., then visit the dozens of horticulture parks and flower expositions along the Zengnan Road as well as the Yuntai Garden at Baiyun Mountain. Spring is the best time to admire kapok, the city flower of Guangzhou. Viewing the red blossoms is a must. The unique Spring Festival Flower Fair is also an event not to be missed.