Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

'Tree kings' a highlight of city's flora

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FOR all of its pollution issues, Chengdu is a surprisingly green city.

It has a canopy of trees, not as dense as Winnipeg's, I would guess. But I can only guess because in Chengdu it is hard to see the trees for the forests of towering buildings. There were no uninterrupted green vistas like you see from downtown Winnipeg when you look west across Wolseley.

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There are many ancient trees, called "tree kings." I saw one in a park that was 1,000 years old. It was a ginkgo, the official tree of Chengdu. They have leaves like fans, or half-shells. They are prized for the brilliant yellow colour they turn to herald the start of fall at the end of November.

Everywhere you see large, mature trees supported by tripods of poles. I thought it meant Chengdu, like Winnipeg, was a windy city. But, no. It simply meant the tree was newly planted, removed from a forest and brought to the city at great expense to satisfy the impatience of planners.

Driving down a freeway one day, we passed what was shaping up to be a newly planted forest, with a variety of tree species, ages and heights -- even newly planted bushes and shrubs -- all supported by tripods.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Gerald Flood, Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 10, 2013 A10

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