Two Celebrations, Three Visits and Endless Beauty


Like many of you, I am focused on Valentine’s Day….making special desserts for my family and distributing Valentines and hoping I get something nice from my special Valentine :^)

But there is also another special day to be celebrated, and that is the Chinese New Year.  Now, I am not Chinese….but our family does celebrate the Chinese New Year.  Why do you ask?  Well, that is because 3 of our 5 children are Chinese – we adopted each of them from China.  As a result, we were fortunate to have visited China three times.

And so in honor of the Chinese New Year, I would love to share with you some of the beautiful landscapes of China we visited….

beautiful landscapes of China

 The hills surrounding Hangzhou, Summer 2003

beautiful landscapes of China

Martyrs Park, Changsha, Fall 2007

beautiful landscapes of China

Purple Orchid Tree (Bauhinia), Guanzhou, Winter 2005

beautiful landscapes of China

Martyrs Park, Changsha, Fall 2007

beautiful landscapes of China

Provincial Museum, Hangzhou, Summer 2003

beautiful landscapes of China

 My husband and daughter, exploring the gardens around West Lake, Hangzhou, Winter 2005

Lotus growing on West Lake, Hangzhou, Summer 2003

Lotus growing on West Lake, Hangzhou, Summer 2003

Martyrs Park, Changsha, Fall 2007

Martyrs Park, Changsha, Fall 2007

The gardens of West Lake, Hangzhou, Winter 2005

The gardens of West Lake, Hangzhou, Winter 2005

Evidently, we are not walking fast enough for my daughter, who forged on ahead.

 Provincial Museum, Hangzhou, Summer 2003

Provincial Museum, Hangzhou, Summer 2003

Shamian Island, Guanghzou, Winter 2005

Shamian Island, Guanghzou, Winter 2005

I was completely unprepared for how beautiful the landscapes and gardens of China were.  I hope to return when my children a bit older so that we can visit their homeland and see it’s beauty.

And so in closing, I wish for you all a very Happy Valentine’s Day and also Happy Chinese New Year!

Happy 11th Gotcha Day!

Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a author, horticulturist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."
24 replies
  1. Jan (Thanks For Today)
    Jan (Thanks For Today) says:

    How nice that you shared your precious children and their heritage with us, Noelle! It is wonderful that you will be able to take them back when they're a bit older to appreciate even more their birth heritage. Thanks for sharing some garden photos…it must be beautiful there. Here's sending you wishes for a sweet Valentines Day!! Jan

  2. Miranda Bell
    Miranda Bell says:

    Hi Noelle – I'm amazed you get time for blogging with your two little ones around – they're gorgeous too. Must admit I would love to adopt – just wish they didn't make it so expensive. We went to Vietnam for our Honeymoon and just loved it as did we when we visited Malaysia on Penang… Such lovely people and the plant life was amazing… Happy Valentines… Miranda

  3. Liza
    Liza says:

    Happy Chinese New Year, Noelle, to you and your family. I really enjoyed these photos – what a beautiful country. And wow, that purple orchid tree – I've never seen anything like it! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Grace Peterson
    Grace Peterson says:

    Hi Noelle, You must be a very adventurous woman. I've always had the [apparently erroneous] assumption that Americans were not allowed into China. The garden photos are beautiful and a special treat. I have to wonder about the origins of "martyr park." LOL

  5. Edith Hope
    Edith Hope says:

    Dear Noelle, There is so much to this posting; Valentine's Day, The Chinese New Year and, by no means least, your beautiful children.

    The pictures of China are most intriguing – a fascinating country I do not doubt – and somewhere I should be most interested in visiting. It is a wonderful idea to return with your children when they are older so that they will be able to appreciate for themselves their heritage and culture.

  6. Evelyn Howard
    Evelyn Howard says:

    Happy Chinese New Year :). I remember that the gardens in China as very peaceful places, with lovely lakes and wispy willows… I enjoyed yr photos very much :).

    I made Chinese dumplings yesterday with a group of Australians and Chinese – lots of fun. My family is celebrating Chinese New Year in Malaysia, but in Australia, it is not a special day…

    Enjoy yr day and weekend, Evelyn

  7. Kate
    Kate says:

    Hi, Noelle!
    Happy Valentine's AND Chinese New Year. I always love to see your little garden helpers in your blog posts. It was a delight to take this photo tour with you. Here's to a fun weekend. 🙂

  8. Carol
    Carol says:

    These are enchanting garden views Noelle! Just beautiful!! Precious children … fun to see them when younger. What a great adventure that will be when you all go back! Happy Valentines Day to you too! ;>)

  9. gippslandgardener
    gippslandgardener says:

    Happy Chinese New Year and Valentines Day Noelle!
    Those are beautiful pictures that inspire me to want to go and explore there too. It was a lovely touch ending with a photo of you with your children!

  10. Kyna
    Kyna says:

    Thank you for sharing something really cool about yourself, Noelle 😀

    I love Chinese New Year. My city in Canada had a huge Asian population, and my high school put on a celebration for it every year.

    One time my 6th grade class visited the Chinese Cultural Center, and entered a piece of our own art into a contest they were holding. I won the contest with a drawing of a dragon, out of 3000 applicants. That's one of my favourite memories ever. And I won it in the year of the Rooster (which is the year I was also born in). They still have it hanging in the center today 😀

  11. Autumn Belle
    Autumn Belle says:

    Your scenery pictures are very beautiful there. I really hope I can visit it again one day. I have only been to Shen Zhen, China. Your adopted children are really blessed to have you, a special lady as their mom. Noelle, Happy Chinese New Year and Happy Valentine's Day to you and your family!

  12. Ami
    Ami says:

    Noelle: Oh, your China scenary pictures make me homesick now… It is a very good idea to bring the kids back to visit their root when they grow up. I also have a new post on my blog celebrating the Chinese New Year. It features New Year plants/bloomings in ShenZhen (very close to GuanZhou). If you are interested, you can hop over 🙂 Happy Chinese New Year to you and your children!

  13. Kathleen
    Kathleen says:

    I'm blown away by how beautiful the gardens are in your photos Noelle. I was under the impression that China was teaming with people and therefore thought there would be little land devoted to gardens. It appears that is VERY wrong. Now you're not only enlightening me about the desert but about foreign countries as well!!
    So wonderful of you to adopt and even more fabulous you keep your children in touch with their roots. Bravo to you ~ have a wonderful day with both celebrations.

  14. Shady Gardener
    Shady Gardener says:

    Noelle, Thank you for taking time to create this post. From all I've understood, adopting children from another country is not often easy. You (and your entire family) are fortunate to have been able to adopt three children from China. It is wonderful that not only are you teaching about the culture of their adoptive country, but that you are teaching them about the culture of the country of their birth, as well.

    Thank you for sharing photos that hold special memories. Blessings on this day! 🙂

  15. Corner Gardener Sue
    Corner Gardener Sue says:

    Hi Noelle,
    Thank you for sharing the beauty of the parks and gardens you saw in China. You are providing your sweeties some wonderful experiences.

    I have a friend who adopted 3 children from South Korea. I still laugh when I think about the time when the oldest daughter was around 3, and they had just gotten another little girl. I told her I wanted to have another baby, and she told me to go to the airport. That's where you get babies.

  16. Andrea
    Andrea says:

    Very beautiful photos Noelle, i appreciate your putting your own with the kids. This is the answer to one of my previous comments here, that your daughter (the older you posted earlier) looks Asian. Your honesty and generosity of heart is really an awesome virtue especially these days. My first to China was in 1990, was lucky to visit the West Lake too. You will be fully blessed especially because you're not limiting your kids to where they are now but from where they come from.

  17. Muhammad khabbab
    Muhammad khabbab says:

    Great to know how much do you care for your kids. All the shots are excellent specially the lotus. Many of chinese plants are native to our country as well and bauhinia is one of them.

  18. Di
    Di says:

    Hello Noelle, We have talked often of visiting China but not sure we'll make it at this point, so thank you for the wonderful photos! Hope you had a great weekend of celebration.

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