[gardeners] Kaichen Nursery In China

skid@bway.net (gardeners@globalgarden.com)
Fri, 20 Feb 1998 02:40:34 -0500 (EST)

 Dear Folks,

Last week I returned from a trip to China, accompanying my sister, who was
adopting a baby there.  Before we left, I was able to contact the people at
Kaichen Nursery (via e-mail and telephone), and had the opportunity of
meeting with them while I was in Beijing.

Below is my report of the wonderful meeting I had with them.....please
excuse any lapses in memory or lack of obvious question that I did _not_
ask--jet lag and brief meeting time were considerable factors.  Also, my
Chinese is non-existent, but Chen Yi and her father-in-law spoke English
pretty well , so we were able to communicate easily.

The business is run by Chen Yi and her husband Mr. Chen (whose first name I
never got).  Mr. Chen is the son of 2 University professors.  I met with
them twice, once, the day we arrived at my hotel room, and the next
evening, when they took me to see their 'warehouse', their apartment and
out to dinner.

His Mom (Huang Qi-Hua) is an engineer studying 'plant gums' and his Dad is
a professor of  Botany (?) (Chen Sing-Chi or Chen Xin-qi), and specializes
in Orchids, I believe.  They came to dinner with us.  The Senior Mr. Chen
will be in the US this late Spring, and I hope to catch up with them while
they are here.

The Kaichen warehouse is really a small apartment (I think about 400 sq.
feet) in an apartment building in Beijing proper.  It was kept unheated to
keep all the roots, tubers, corms etc., in a dormant state.  Boxes of plant
material were stacked everywhere, all material held in moist sphagnum moss.
The boxes were either wood or bamboo.  _Very Exciting_!

After the 'tour' we went to their apartment, which was very spacious by
Chinese standards--much bigger {and nicer} than Bill's and my apartment
here in NYC.  They have a small glassed in porch area there where they were
forcing some of their specimens.

Oh, I was able to get some video footage of the warehouse, as well as some
color snapshots.

As I understood it from them, all plant material appears to be wild
collected, and is harvested in the late summer and fall.   (We understand
this practice to be less environmentally problematic than it first appears
due to the extreme population pressures in China and consequential habitat
loss caused by those pressures.)  They have a rather extensive collection
of 'in situ' photos on the plants they offer in flower.  Unfortunately,
very little of what they offer is illustrated on their website.

According to them (including Prof. Chen) the species that are offered but
named by 'genus' only and then a species # (e.g.  Iris sp. #1) are unnamed
species....not described by Western resources, ever.  Impossible for me to
say, but very interesting nonetheless.

While there, I put an order in with them and it should arrive via DHL Air
Express early next week.  Oh, I got an APHIS plant importation permit
before I left for China, and gave them a copy of the permit and labels to
put on the outside of the boxes, which will enter the US via JFK airport.

They will still be shipping for a short while, and do have some stock left.
They will not ship material that has broken dormancy (we know, because we
are not getting everything we ordered because of this problem).

If you want to contact them, their:

 e-mail address is:  kaichen@china.kw.com.cn

The Website is:  http://www.bjkaichen-hgd.com.cn/

Mailing Address:
Mrs. Chen Yi
Zhong Guan-cun, Bao Fu-si
928/building, 402
Beijing, China

Be aware that not all ISPs have good connections to China.  We had to sign
up with the dreaded AOL to reach them, as our primary ISP (BwayNet) has a
'weak pipeline' to China, and could never get through to them on our
bwaynet account.  AOL surprisingly gets through every time.

If you telephone, remember, in Beijing it is 13 hours _later_  than NY.
Also, it is easier for Chen Yi to *write* in English than to speak it,
although she easily makes herself understood.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.....It _was_ an
amazing experience.  The Chen clan was most warm and generous to me during
my visit.

Harvey Ferdschneider
(half of SKID Plants  Zone 6  CT  USA  & SKID Photography in NYC)