Lori Murray, Special to the Star

By Lori Murray, Special to the Star

On one of our last days in Shanghai last April we visited The Bund, a levee – like structure running along the riverbank of the city’s financial center and providing an excellent view of the skyscrapers across the water that are the pride of the “New Shanghai.”

From this vantage point, our guide assured us, we could see and appreciate these marvelous modern buildings which were indeed stunning. Unfortunately, as he confidently led us up the stairs to the viewing area, something else caught my gardener’s eye – a long wall of (could it be?) flowers!

So, as often occurs when I am traveling with a group, while the others obediently climbed the stairs as directed, I went in the opposite direction, saying a silent prayer that the bus wouldn’t leave me if I lost sight of my fellow travelers!

What I was lucky enough to see was three groups of workers changing out the flowers that seemed to be growing out of the wall. Then, while I stood there trying to figure out just what I was seeing, a young man in black leather roared onto the plaza on a noisy black motorcycle and whipped out his camera! He was probably not as astonished but was certainly as impressed as I!

One group of workers was removing the old flowers. Another group – as we frequently saw in China’s landscaping process – was sweeping up the debris and making the area presentable. And a third group was placing new flowers in their designated holders according to the plan their group leader held in his hands. It was remarkable both in its efficiency and in its overall effect.

A closer look showed me HOW these flowers were maintained on the tall wall. The structure actually consisted of a series of pieces with cut-out spaces for each pot of flowers. Undoubtedly a watering system had been installed behind this framework. And the overall effect was spectacular.

Here, adjacent to a beautifully landscaped park, was a modern marvel on exhibit for the pleasure of those who waited for a bus or simply passed by on their way to an appointment. This view combined with the evening we spent – with a whole lot of the population of Shanghai – on the Bund looking at the lights both on and across the river has left me with an indelible memory of the beauty man can create when he allows his imagination free rein.