No color evokes more emotion, symbolism and patriotism among the people of China than the color red. Red fills the streets of China during celebrations like Chinese New Year as the color of happiness, prosperity and good luck. Red is frequently the color of choice for clothing, room decorations, flowers and even tropical fish. Red dominates the Chinese flag and is the color associated with Chinese Communist Party. Historically, red has been THE color of China for thousands of years.
The city of Shanghai, China hosted the most expensive world’s fair: Expo 2010. The fair site was the largest site ever at 5.28 sq. km (1,300 acres). Shanghai Expo 2010 boasts the largest attendance ever with over 73 million visitors. During the Expos six month span 246 counties and organizations participated. Expo 2010 highlighted Shanghai as the “next great world city”. It should be no surprise that the color red dominated the expo. Banners, lanterns, clothing were all in red. A request was made by the organizers for red flowers such as peonies, orchids, chrysanthemums to decorate the gardens and exhibition halls.
The acclaimed lotus hybridizer, Ding Yuesheng of Nanjing Yilian Garden, offered a very special lotus collection he had created for Expo 2010. Thanks to his efforts, the color red dominated one of the primary exhibition halls at the Expo. The collection of lotus, known as the China Red Collection, includes nine different red Chinese lotuses. The lotuses are named for different Chinese cities which were significant in Chinese Civil war. Each lotus marks a location of Mao Zedong’s or Chairman Mao’s struggle for the creation of the People’s Republic of China. The Chinese Red Collection of lotus proved to be one of the most popular floral exhibits of Expo 2010.
Ding Yuesheng had a special challenge in creating the Chinese Red Collection. The design requirements stated the planting flowers must be red. Most importantly the plants had to be bloom for the opening ceremonies on May 1st. Red lotuses normally do not bloom so early in the season. To overcome this challenge, Mr. Ding looked to the efforts of the founders and past president of the China Flower Association – Lotus Branch Wang Qichao and Zhang Xing Yan. Professors Wang and Zhang had worked with tropical lotus in their numerous crosses. Tropical lotus provided the key to expanding the lotus blooming period, as they bloom for almost the entire year. Eventually Mr. Ding was successful in creating early blooming red lotus thanks to the pioneering work of Professors Wang and Zhang. Nine hybrids were selected as the number nine is the greatest single digit number and regarded as the most significant in Chinese culture.
The Chinese Red Collection includes:
• Chinese Red – Shaoshan
Shaoshan is the birthplace of Mao Zedong and an important base during the Chinese Communist Revolution.
Chinese Red Shaoshan lotus: light red to pink, multi-petal lotus. Chinese Red Shaoshan is a large flowering lotus, which is a prolific bloomer; ideal for pond or pot.
• Chinese Red – Shanghai
Mao Zedong visited Shanghai over 50 times in his life. His longest visit was in 1924 where he lived with his first wife Yang Kaihui and their 2 sons. Shanghai was the location of the first Congress of the Communist Party of China.
Chinese Red Shanghai lotus: Bright, large, multi-petal lotus with an “explosion” stamens from its bright yellow center. Shanghai is an excellent bloomer. Chinese Red Shanghai readily produces seed and is an ideal maternal parent for creating bright red lotus.
• Chinese Red – Jiaxing
Jiaxing is the city where Mao Zedong reconvened the first Congress of the Communist Party of China in 1921, after being forced out of Shanghai.
Chinese Red Jiaxing lotus: Single Petal lotus with thick ring of stamens
• Chinese Red – Jinggangshan
Jinggangshan is the birthplace of the Chinese Red Army and the cradle of the Chinese revolution.
Chinese Red Jinggangshan lotus: Brilliant, purple-red, double petal lotus. It produces a generous number of flowers which are just above its leaves. Chinese Red Jinggangshan produces seed but is a generous tuber producing variety.
• Chinese Red – Ruijin
Ruijin is the isolated city to which Mao Zedong fled to after being forced out of Jinggangshan. Under Mao’s leadership, the Chinese Soviet Republic was established in Ruijin during 1931. Mao was forced to leave Ruijin in 1934 and started the famed “Long March”.
Chinese Red Ruijin lotus: spectacular, double petal, red lotus with a bright yellow center. The flower often takes on a peach-red tone. Chinese Red Ruijin is a good blooming lotus and will set seed readily.
• Chinese Red – Zunyi
Zunyi was the site of the Zunyi Conference in 1935. Here the leaders of the Communist Party of China met and Mao Zedong emerged as the military leader and the leader of the Communist Party.
Chinese Red Zunyi lotus: Single red lotus, beautiful deep red color, free flowering, long blooming period.
• Chinese Red – Yan’an
In May of 1942 Yan’an Forum on Literature and Art was held. Mao Zedong made a series of speeches which would later be edited and published. There were two primary points: 1) all art should reflect the life of the working class. 2) Art should serve politics by advancing socialism.
Chinese Red Yan’an lotus: Bright red, single lotus with slender petals. Flowers stand high above the leaves. Excellent flowering lotus which has a long blooming season. Chinese Red Yan’an does not produce seed readily.
• Chinese Red – Xibeipo
Xibeipo was the last command center before all of China was liberated in 1948. Xibeipo is also the site of the National Land Conference promoting the land reform movement.
Chinese Red Xibeipo lotus: Bright red lotus, with large rounded petals. Free Flowering with a long blooming season. Ideal for pond or pot.
• Chinese Red – Beijing
Beijing was the location of the 1949 conference which celebrated the Communist victory in the Chinese Civil war and the establishment of the communist government. On October 1, 1949 the People’s Republic of China was formally announced and Mao Zedong as its leader.
Chinese Red Beijing lotus: single petal lotus which has the deepest red color of the entire Chinese Red collection. In some flowers the deep red will take on a purple color. Chinese Red Beijing’s numerous flowers are held high above its leaves and it has a long blooming season. Chinese Red Beijing is a complex cross. Nelumbo lutea is used to bring out the deep red – purple color. There is also a tropical Thai lotus used to extend the blooming period and produce more flowers.
Special thanks or xie xie to Ding Yuesheng of Nanjing Yilian Gardens for his assistance and use of his photos with this post. During the summer of 2015, Larry Nau has the privilege and honor and meeting Ding Yuesheng at his beautiful and magnificent lotus nursery in Nanjing, China.