MAIN STORY: It’s Sunday morning. The sky is overcast. Tshering Wangmo, a mother of two, looked outside her apartment. The prospect of rain worried her. She’s got plans for the day.
Despite the gloomy weather, Tshering went ahead with her plan. She woke her children up and told them that they are heading to Paro for the second Royal Flower Exhibition. The children shrieked with excitement.
Tshering made sure she carried her DSLR camera. There was a thin drizzle as they started the journey.
Tshering recalled the childhood days she spent in Paro some three decades ago. Paro was a quaint little town back then. She remembered every nook and corner of the town like the back of her hand.
Hundreds of people had thronged. Cars were parked in every little space; it was hard to find a spot. At Ugyen Pelri Palace, the venue of the flower exhibition, was packed with people and vehicles.
Tshering and her children slowly made their way towards the exhibition among the crowd.
As they entered the palace grounds spanning 18 acres, the crowd overwhelmed Tshering, but more than that, it was the variety of exotic flowers and plants that excited her. Tshering took out her camera and started clicking pictures. The children were equally engrossed by the various entertainments at the exhibition.
The stall that captured Tshering’s attention was the bonsai tree displayed by the citizens of Miharu, Japan. Some of the trees were 120 years old.
A Japanese bonsai expert, Masashi Hirao, explained to the observers what bonsai meant. Bonsai is a Japanese art form of using an ornamental tree or shrub grown in a pot, artificially preventing it from reaching its normal size. This Japanese tradition dates back over a thousand years, Masashi Hirao said.
There was also a 100-year-old juniper.
“Many Bhutanese I’ve met so far are interested in the art of making bonsai. It shows how much Bhutanese appreciate nature,” Masashi Hirao said.
Tshering took the pictures of the bonsai and the giggling girls who were trying the traditional Japanese dress called the kimono. There were some who were learning the art of making Japanese traditional tea.
Tshering and her children posed for a picture under the canopy of flowers that were hung from the trees. Everywhere Tshering looked, there were people capturing the moments through pictures.
The exhibition displayed the country’s rich indigenous plants and herbs, as well as a large variety of ornamental flowers and vegetables from around the world. Everywhere Tshering looked there was a new flower that captured her attention.
The exhibition also saw people from the Royal Project Foundation of Thailand display organic vegetables, temperate fruits and exotic flowers that gave out a sweet smell. There were also various installations and themed gardens that was swarmed by the visitors along with the models of dzongs and monasteries.
“My favourite has been the flowers so far,” said Tshering. “Nothing captures my attention more than the flowers, especially the rose that was gifted by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during their last visit to the country.”
The exhibition was a perfect place for nature lovers, gardening enthusiasts, artists and photographers.
“We feel a sense of magic in the air and I love the hidden corners and surprises. It’s a great place for families to spend the day. Everyone seems to have a good time,” Tshering said. “It’s an educative and enjoyable experience for the children as well. They get to see and learn many new things about our country as well.”
Tshering and her children left the exhibition after about three with a smile on their faces. They had their lunch at a packed restaurant in Paro before they headed home.
The Royal Bhutan Flower Exhibition was initiated by the agriculture ministry upon the Royal Command of His Majesty The King with an objective to foster appreciation for beautiful spaces and encourage horticulture and floriculture-based economy.
The first Royal Bhutan Flower Exhibition was held at the Ugyen Pelri Palace grounds in April last year. It was a huge success with over 50,000 people visiting over the course of five days.
Her Majesty the Queen Mother Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck is the Royal Patron for the Royal Bhutan Flower Exhibition.
Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen inaugurated the exhibition on June 4.
The exhibition is being held to commemorate Her Majesty’s Birth Anniversary.
The exhibition was organised by the agriculture ministry with support from Paro dzongkhag, World Wildlife Fund-Bhutan, Royal Society for Protection of Nature, Tourism Council of Bhutan, Druk Holdings and Investment and Bhutan Power Corporation.
The exhibition ended on June 8.