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LCSD nurseries - Hong Kong's "green bases"


They are the places where tiny seeds turn into blooming flowers and short twigs grow into towering trees.

Hong Kong may well be better known for its "concrete forests", but that is all the more reason not to ignore our "green bases" -- the nurseries of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD), which provide an all-but-inexhaustible supply of plants and flowers for our parks and roadsides.

The LCSD has seven nurseries. Four of them serve as support centres, storing and nursing plants in transit.

The other three -- Tung Tsz Nursery in Tai Po, Tso Kung Tam Nursery in Tsuen Wan and Area 45 Nursery in Tuen Mun - are production centres that are open to the public. They produced over 500,000 plants and attracted more than 8,000 visitors last year.

Tai Po Tung Tsz Nursery, located on a 3.8-hectare site at the junction of Ting Kok Road and Tung Tsz Road, was opened in February 1985.

It is the LCSD's largest nursery, with an output of more than 320,000 plants last year. Its three functions are: to cultivate large quantities of plants and grasses for the LCSD's parks and roadside gardens in Tai Po, North District and Yuen Long and for major events in Hong Kong; to promote green culture by organising courses for schools and open days to arouse public interest in horticulture; and to collect and cultivate plant specimens suitable for growing in Hong Kong.

Tai Po Tung Tsz Nursery is divided into a Conifers Area, a Trees Area, a Shrubs Area and an Annuals Area. The Annuals Area is the most productive, with yearly output of from 120,000 to 130,000 plants. The Annuals Area is also the most popular with visitors because its flowers bloom all year round, affording an opportunity to see the prime flowers of each season.

Tung Tsz Nursery's open days are popular with individuals and groups, both local and overseas. Last year, it attracted over 1,500 visitors, including students, the elderly and the mentally disabled.

The nursery's guided tours take visitors through all the different steps of propagation -- collection of seeds and branches, irrigation, fertilisation, changing bags/pots, prevention of diseases and insect infestation, and weeding. Some plants are for sale during open days.

February and March, around the time of the Chinese New Year, are the most popular months for visitors. The elderly, in particular, show great interest in learning the secrets of growing narcissuses. The nursery presents seniors who visit the nursery at this time with the gift of a narcissus, which they may cultivate at home.

Another highlight of the guided tour is the fascinating Crotalaria retusa, a plant famed for its almost magical power to attract butterflies. Specimens of the Crotalaria retusa are planted outside the Insect House of Tai Po Waterfront Park, a favourite with children because of the large numbers of colourful butterflies that congregate there. Many foreign visitors come to buy the plant to take home to their own gardens.

Tsuen Wan Tso Kung Tam Nursery is situated at Chiu Tam Path, near Discovery Park. The nursery occupies 2.3 hectares and produced more than 100,000 plants last year, placing it second to Tung Tsz Nursery in terms of output. The nursery supplies plants for the LCSD's recreation venues and roadside greening in Tsuen Wan. It received over 4,300 visitors last year. In addition to its different propagation areas and facilities, the nursery shows videos on its operations and hosts talks by horticulture experts.

Tuen Mun Area 45 Nursery is located opposite Butterfly Beach Park. It covers 0.8 hectare and supplies plants to parks, playgrounds and greening projects in Tuen Mun. Despite its size, the nursery produced about 90,000 plants and drew more than 2, 000 visitors last year, including groups from kindergartens, primary schools and special schools. The nursery adopts flexible teaching methods to cater for the needs of different students.

When planning a nursery visit, please note the following details:

Nursery: Tai Po Tung Tsz Nursery

Opening Hours: 9.30am - 4.30pm (Saturdays)

Telephone: 2665 5969

Guided Tour: 10am - 11am, 2.30pm - 3.30pm

Nursery: Tsuen Wan Tso Kung Tam Nursery

Opening Hours: 9.30am - 4.30pm (Saturdays)

Telephone: 2498 0620

Guided Tour: Advance appointment required

Nursery: Tuen Mun Area 45 Nursery

Opening Hours: 9.30am - 4.30pm (Saturdays)

Telephone: 2404 8452

Guided Tour: Advance appointment required

End/Saturday, July 19, 2003

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