COMPASS MAGAZINE > November 2015

Taichung Flower Markets serve resident gardeners

By Paul Adams
Translated by Carrie Chang Chien

Despite its size and population density, Taichung is a remarkably green city. Cast your eyes up at any apartment building and you're likely to see stems, leaves and vines spilling over the edges of balconies and rooftops. Despite the lack of garden space, Taichung's residents have an affinity for growing everything from flowers and herbs to full-sized fruit trees in the little space they have. As well as adding a touch of beauty to what could otherwise be a drab, urban scene, they actively help to clean our air and make this a better place to live in.

So where are the best places to stock up on some plants? Beside the limited selections in supermarkets around town, there are some excellent dedicated plant shops and flower markets scattered around the city.

(Note: Opening times at these markets vary seasonally but are typically 8-9 a.m. and 6-9 p.m. It's advisable to call in advance and check if you are planning to arrive early or late.)

Youxin Flower Market

Youxin Flower Market is located on TaiYuan Road, just east of the Rt. 74 expressway. There's a lot crammed into a relatively small space here, where you can find everything from small houseplants and orchids to trees. They also stock a wide range of gardening supplies; shelves are filled with every manner of tool, pots of all shapes and sizes, and plentiful soil and fertiliser. Various services are provided, too. If you are lucky enough to have an actual garden they will gladly help you with landscaping to maximise the space you have available.

(04) 2436-9998
1190, TaiYuan Rd, Sec 3, Beitun Dist

Qinghe Flower Store

Qinghe Flower Store is a smaller store and specialises in spectacular orchid arrangements for special occasions. They do also stock a selection of smaller trees and have some well-tended bonsai trees for sale. This is very much a specialist store with a narrow range of business, not somewhere to simply browse due to the lack of variety. However, it does offer one very unique service: Should a loved one pass away, they can arrange for a tree burial, whereby the remains of the deceased are used to help a real tree to grow.

(04) 2360-4751
350, JinHua Rd, North Dist

Dali District Farmer's Association Guoguang Flower Market

Dali District Farmer's Association Guoguang Flower Market is by far the largest in the city center area. Taking up a whole block just off GuoGuang Road, this covered market houses a multitude of small stores. Here you can find more or less anything you could need for your garden, balcony or rooftop, whether you are a beginner or experienced gardener. For starters there are the for-sale plants, including cactii, orchids, bonsai trees, every herb imaginable, fruit trees and everything else besides. Most stalls specialise in specific kinds of plants, including those making various artistic hanging baskets out of every material from seashells to planks of wood. Other vendors offer stocks of soil, fertilisers, containers, tools and even a whole host of natural mosquito repellents.
The market also hosts a number of food/drink stalls, making it easy to spend even more time here. You can pick up some light snacks, sample some Taiwanese tea or relax in a small cafe that serves fresh coffee brewed from an array of fine imported beans.

Taichung City Flower Market

Taichung City Flower Market has a similar setting, although it's much smaller and located west of the city center. It is made up of a long row of individual shops, each spilling its wares out onto the pavement, giving the impression that you're strolling through the jungle rather than an urban area. As with the Dali market, each store tends to have its own specialty, although several feature all kinds of products. Many larger trees and bushes are on sale here for those with a lot of space (and suitable transportation). You'll also come across a herb seller with an impressive variety of merchandise and plenty of tips on how to keep them healthy.

Fuxing Flower Market

Fuxing Flower Market on XiangShang Road, right in the city center, is a single flower store that places a lot of emphasis on decorations. From flower arrangements to cute statues to decorative pots, there's plenty here to add a touch of individuality to your growing area, regardless of its size. As with other similar stores, there is a good variety of plants available, particularly in the small-to-medium size range, and all come with detailed instructions (in Chinese) on how to care for them. Incidentally, we received a top tip from the owner here, based on his years of experience working on farms and in the mountains--a simple salt-water solution applied to mosquito bites will stop the itching almost immediately! It's invaluable advice if you're going to be spending more time outdoors with your new purchases.

(04) 2475-2962
379-2, XiangShang Rd, Sec 1, West Dist

Meicun Flower Market

Meicun Flower Market is very similar to Fuxing, both in size and the range of plants available. However, here the focus is solely on the plants and there are many more flowering varieties for sale. At the rear of the shop is a small outdoor area which really shows just how easy it is to transform a small space into an overgrown, natural hideaway. The picnic table, surrounded by lush, green foliage, made this writer instantly envious and certainly inspired some plans for next spring. Animal lovers may also be lucky enough to play with some of the friendly cats that can be found prowling among the plant pots.

Daya District Farmer's Association Flower Market

Daya District Farmer's Association Flower Market is a little more out of the way, but perhaps the best-known on this list. This market has slowly grown over the years and now plays host to dozens of stalls sporting an array of plants and accessories, rivaled only by the Dali International Flower Market. The market is located around the halfway point of the Tanya Shen Bikeway cycle route (see Compass Oct. cover story on taiwanfun.com) and as such makes a perfect break in that journey. You can easily spend a couple of hours wandering through the stalls, filling up on refreshments and simply enjoying the fresh air generated by so many plants in such a small area. There are also special events held every month, from exhibitions to classes and workshops, so you never know what you might stumble upon.

Tanzih Tourist Orchid Garden

Last but not least, Tanzih Tourist Orchid Garden specializes in the retail of moth orchids and features tens of thousands of orchids on display around its flower shop. From facilities to temperature/humidity control, the garden has created an ideal, orchid cultivation environment, and is currently working to patent a special proprietary product--a 360-degree all-around moth orchid arrangement. Prices start from NT$100 and a variety of customized services are offered. This is also an excellent spot for a weekend family trip where, besides flower purchases, you can relax while sitting on the grass in an outdoor area.