Bellagio’s Conservatory & Botanical Garden – Chinese New Year

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(Fig. 01)
Back in January I visited Bellagio Garden’s Winter exhibit with a friend visiting from Kansas. The theme of this winter’s exhibit at the Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Garden is “Chinese New Year” and is centered around the Chinese calendar’s “Year of the Horse”. Almost every aspect of the exhibit honors the stallion, symbolizing happiness and good luck. Guided by the ancient practice of Feng Shui – the art of using surroundings to attract harmony, balance and positive life energy, each garden within the display incorporates water, ensuring a positive flow of energy; and the three friends of winter – pine, bamboo and plum, symbolizing perseverance, integrity and modesty, respectively.
(Fig. 02)
At the Conservatory’s entrance, an 18-foot-tall custom-made Chinese money tree (Fig. 02) symbolizes good fortune and nobility. The lucky tree flourishes with 384 oversized gold-leafed coins on its branches as mounds of I-Ching coins, a traditional Chinese symbol for money, surround its base.

From the ceiling hang dramatic clusters of red silk lanterns and red firecrackers (Fig. 03), believed to ward off evil as they represent happiness and prosperity.

Four ding pots (Fig. 04), ancestral vessels that protect against bad fortune, are arranged at the corners and burn incense from their peaks for good luck.
(Fig. 03)
(Fig. 04)
“Lucky” children (Fig. 05), each embellished with 1,800 multicolored flowers including carnations, spider mums and Fuji mums, bring life to the display as they play near the peaceful pavilion. In the South Garden, three floral children frolic throughout the luminous Bromeliads.
(Fig. 05)
The centerpiece of the display features seven life-size horses on a lush three-tier mountain (Fig. 01) while a majestic gold stallion rears at the mountaintop (Fig. 06); the total number of eight represents good fortune. On each level, cascading waterfalls drift down the mountain into a tranquil pond filled with more than 150 Koi fish while two giant red lanterns illuminate the sky overhead. Legend has it that Buddha asked all the animals to meet him on Chinese New Year. Twelve came. The seventh animal in the Asian zodiac is the headstrong horse. Those born in the Year of the Horse tend to be energetic, good with money and very fond of travel.
(Fig. 06)
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