Beijing Botanical Garden, lying at foot of the West Hill in Beijing, has by tradition been engaged in the conservation of the native flora, especially plants from northern, northeastern and northwestern China. It also attaches the importance on research, public education and recreation. 200 ha are currently opened to the public, including the living plant collections, the historic sites, and a nature reserve. Excellent displays are made monthly in the main conservatory, bonsai garden, the arboretum and 11 outdoor gardens, tree-peony garden, peony garden, rose garden, ornamental peach garden, lilac garden, magnolia garden, perennial garden and bamboo garden. There are more than 1.4 million visitors every year from domestic and overseas.
Bonsai is an ancient tradition art in China. Its long history can be traced back to 1,900 years ago. The Bonsai garden is an attractive exhibition in the Beijing Botanical Garden. Most Bonsai works come from different parts of China with distinct styles. There are also outdoor miniature trees over 100 years old in the garden. A ginkgo tree is now more than 1,300 years old. The garden provides visitors with an elegant place to study the Bonsai art appreciate and exchange the works
The main Conservatory, one of the biggest projects in Beijing, was setup in 1999 with an area of 6,500 square meters for display. Totally 3,000 kinds of plants were grown in crystal sections, including rainforest house, cacti and succulent house, orchid and carnivorous house, alpine house, foliage plant house and flower show house. The features of the rainforest are displayed in the tropical rainforest house, such as the plank buttress roots, dripping-tip leaves and etc. More than 1,000 species of cacti and succulents are collected in their house. It makes you feel like walking on an Arizona or Africa pathway. So, the conservatory is a "mustn't miss" spot in the botanical garden.
The Historical Sites Division of the garden consists of the Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wofo Temple), the Cherry Valley, the Memorial of Cao Xueqin, the Tomb of Liangqichao and the Relic of Longjiao Temple.
The Reclining Buddha Temple, originally named Doushuai Temple, was built during the Tang dynasty (618-907). Large renovations were carried out during the Yuan (1271-1368), Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) Dynasties, and the temple was renamed Shifanpujue Temple in the twelfth year of the emperor Yongzheng (1734). Today, however, the temple is commonly known as Wofo Temple because it houses a bronze statue of the sleeping Buddha (Wo Fo), founded in 1321. The temple complex contains four halls and courtyards with a colored glass screen, a pool and a stone bridge in front of them, and Shouan Mountain rising behind them. The delicate bronze statue is a good example of Chinese arts achievement. In 2000, Wofo Temple was accepted as one of the National historic sites.
The Cherry Valley is abundant with forests and is an important place for nature conservation and public education in the vicinity of Beijing. The Memorial of Cao Xueqin represents the living scenery where he wrote the famous novel Dreams in the Red Mansion in the West Hill area. The "Yellow Leaves Village" near the Memorial is very beautiful in autumn when the leaves turn yellow and red.