What pandemic? Crowds swarm Shanghai’s mega out-of-season tulip show

SHANGHAI, China: Marking China’s Golden Week, an eight-day holiday, is an off-season tulip extravaganza on Chongming Island, Shanghai. For the occasion, a group of Chinese, Dutch and New Zealand growers forced more than 1.8 million tulip bulbs to bloom, nearly as accurate as a Swiss watch.  

Oriental International Shanghai Floriculture Industry Development ltd (OISF), one of the driving forces behind the event told FCI that they had been laying the groundwork since 2019 developing the crop plan and preparing the sourcing contracts involving bulb suppliers from China, the Netherlands and New Zealand. “We had to find solutions against all seasons and odds,” says Ms Coco Yang, OISF’s general manager.


Ms Coco Jang.

Under natural circumstances, Shanghai’s subtropical climate is rather inhospitable for tulip plantings in the open landscape. Summers are hot and humid and tulip bulbs require 3-4 month chilling to force them out of dormancy and help them develop strong roots and high-quality flowers. OISF imported 1.8 million tulip bulbs from New Zealand, which were potted in June and subsequently cold-stored until mid-September.

The pre-rooted tulip bulbs from across China were trucked to their final destination Chongming Island where 400 workers planted the tulips into the landscape of the beautiful Zhongzhong Forest in Miao Town.

Mr Ibo Gulsen attending the opening ceremony.

Mr Ibo Gülsen, managing director of IGMPR, a consultancy and design firm offering a full spectrum of services for floral attractions, flower festivals and parks, has been providing support, guidance and advice to help OISF create a successful show. He says, “Pre-rooted tulips allow for a perfect timing of the bloom time and may be used to prolong the season of parks and festivals.”

The Shanghai show marks the first time ever that they have been used on such a massive scale. Gülsen, “We are honoured and proud for having contibuted to the project. Despite the world-wide pandemic, the challenges in the supply chain and travel restrictions, we managed to stay on track.  Eventually we achieved a magnificent result, thanks to OISF and all partners that were involved.”

Although visitation was capped at 1,000 visitors at any moment in the park due to COVID-19 regulations, over 5,000 visitors per day visited the show, with peaks of even 10,000.

The timing of the event around China’s Golden Week was perfect. China’s National Day, that celebrates the founding of the People’s Republic of China coincided with this year’s Mid-Autumn Festival. The eight-day holiday, often referred to as Golden Week, attracted huge crowds.

The show is an ante premiere of the 10th edition of the China Flower Expo which will be held on Chongming Island from 21 May to 2 July- July 2 in 2021.

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