Chinese gardens often feature traditional flowering trees and bushes that are symbolic of auspicious concepts and ideas in Chinese culture. Often, a large flowering tree like a cherry may have smaller flowers, like azaleas, underneath with other very popular flowers, like peonies, forming a border. However, there is as much variety in Chinese flower gardening as there is in gardens in the United States.
Azaleas are popular flowers in Chinese gardens. In some interpretations, the azalea is symbolic of womanhood in Chinese culture. Azaleas are a type of rhododendron and grow very well in many parts of China. Azaleas grow well in some parts of central China because they are cold-tolerant down to -10 degrees F. Azaleas do best in moist soils and often grow very well in more southern, coastal parts of China.
Cherry trees are grown in Chinese gardens and are symbolic of feminine beauty. Cherry blossoms are more than symbolic in Chinese culture: They are frequent subjects of both functional and fine art. Cherry trees grow in many parts of China, ranging from the colder north to the tropical south. The city of Kunming is probably the best known place to view cherry blossoms in the spring. Yuantong mountain is one of the most popular places to see cherry blossoms in Kunming. Many gardeners add a cherry tree or even a small grove of trees to their landscape designs.
Many Chinese gardens feature peonies. Although peony is often seen as symbolic of general good fortune, these large, beautiful perennials more often symbolize wealth. Like many other popular Chinese flowers, peonies are frequent subjects of functional and fine Chinese art. According to the University of Vermont, the peony is a hardy perennial that can flower for many years with very little care. Smaller forms of peony grow to between 2 and 4 feet. Larger varieties can grow as tall as 6 feet.