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Discover What’s in Bloom this Summer

The Chinese Garden of Friendship was designed according to ancient Chinese principles: the balancing of complementary opposites (Yin-Yang); the blending of the five life-force elements of wood, fire, earth, metal and water (Wu-Xing); and the promotion of harmonious energy flow (Qi).

Deeply in tune with the seasons, every plant and bloom in the Garden has been carefully selected to cultivate and promote these time honoured principles. The symbolic blooms of summer reflect warmth, fire, passion, creativity, rebirth and renewal.


Gardenia (Gardenia Jasminoides) are not only especially beautiful, with their glossy green leaves and exceptionally fragrant cream flowers, they are also very popular in traditional Chinese medicine. Practitioners use the Gardenia’s berry-like fruits (Zhi Zhi) in a variety of therapeutic blends, teas and soups to ease digestion, help with insomnia, combat flu symptoms and ease eczema.

Sacred Lotus

Sacred Lotus (Nelumbo Nucifera) is an important symbol of purity and rebirth. The blossom lays dormant for most of the year, only rising to the surface of muddy lakes in summer. The roots, seeds and the stem of the lotus are all edible. Lotus root is used as a seasoning for food, while young lotus stems can be used as a salad ingredient, and the leaves are made into tea. The seeds, a powerful symbol of fertility, are the most used in Chinese medicine. According to legend, consuming them can make people immortal and young again.

Water Lily

Water Lilies (Nymphaeaceae) are a symbol of wealth and the gold flowers floating on the surface of the water are said to be like coins. The water lily is also considered a symbol of purity, spontaneous regeneration and divine birth. In Chinese culture, lilies are a popular wedding flower, as they symbolise a happy union that will last for 100 years.


Willows (Salix Babylonia) represent feminine grace, regeneration and rebirth. The soft swaying movement of their branches in the breeze is said to be like the dress of a lady as she dances, and the shape of the willow leaf is thought to be the perfect shape of a feminine eyebrow – thin and curved. Because willows can grow from a single branch placed into soil, they are said to represent rebirth and are a traditional gift in China, often given to friends and loved ones going on a long journey. (“Wherever you go, I hope you flourish like a willow.”)

Chinese Lantern

Chinese Lanterns (Physalis alkekengi) are also known as winter cherry or strawberry ground cherry. A large, brilliant orange to reddish paper covering over their fruit gives them a resemblance to paper lanterns, and so they are a symbol of protection. Their dried fruit is used as a diuretic, antiseptic, liver corrective and sedative in traditional Chinese medicine.


Marigolds (Calendula officinalis) are auspicious flowers that bloom in striking, bright colours and so are a favourite for Chinese New Year and for potted plants. Used as a remedy in southern Chinese provinces for many generations, the flower heads are believed to have properties that dissipate heat in fevers and colds. The bright orange and yellow blooms symbolise the sun and light.

Visit the Chinese Garden of Friendship in Darling Harbour this summer to see and enjoy these beautiful blooms for yourself.

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