While out hiking yesterday in what's fast becoming my favorite Country Park on Hong Kong Island, a friend and I came across some beautiful wild flowers that we had never seen before. But it wasn't until I returned to my apartment and leafed through the Nature Diary co-published by the Friends of the Country Park, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department and Cosmos Books Ltd. that I only just recently bought that I came across the following entry about them (and, in the process, identified what these gorgeous red creations of nature are):-
When I* was a child, family homes were nicely decorated for Lunar New Year, and auspicious festive plants were must-haves. In those days the variety of new year plants were limited. Peach (Prunus persica) was the number one favourite, followed by Chinese New Year Flower (Enkianthus quinqueflorus). The latter, also known as Auspicious Plant, has purplish red bell-shaped blossoms. They used to grow wild in Hong Kong but deforestation... almost wiped them out. Legislation was later introduced to protect this species. This, coupled with a growing supply of import[ed] festive plants in the following decades, saved the lovely Chinese new Year Flower from extipartion [i.e., extinction?]. The individuals we see in the wild today are lucky survivors...
To which elegaic remarks I'd like to add that: it thus seems that my hiking companion and I can count ourselves pretty lucky indeed for having managed to catch sight -- and, for full measure, recorded the sighting on our digital cameras -- of these rare as well as pretty Fragrant Harbour flora and, fittingly enough, during what after all still is the festive Chinese New Year period**. :)
* There is no one author credited with having written the words in the Nature Diary but am tempted to surmise that the "I" in the above quoted passage may well be Maxim Tang who was responsible for the drawings in, and design of, this publication.
** Should anyone want to know, today's the 12th day of Chinese New Year! ;b