Seven-year-old Nuomi, the host of "Nuomi's Garden," owns one of the most beautiful balconies in Nanjing City, east China's Jiangsu Province. With China rose, clematis, largeleaf hydrangea and other tropical plants on one side, and a tiny vegetable patch on the other, she received the best biology lesson just by exploring the garden.
Nuomi's mother, Zhou Chengzhuo, built the miniature world of nature amid the bustling city for her daughter. Nuomi means "glutinous rice" in Chinese, therefore, the garden's name literally translates to "Glutinous Garden."
Zhou is a busy working woman. A couple of years ago, she moved to the current duplex penthouse that came with a large balcony.
At the time, she had lived in Nanjing for more than 20 years and got weary of the city life.
"Every day was the same, like copy-paste, in my empty eyes," she says. "Buried in work and chores, I got no reason to be happy. I lost interest in everything, lost my passion for life.
"I wanted to slow down and redefine who I really am."
At first, she only planted flowers on the balcony for her daughter Nuomi. She didn't want the kid to go straight into a busy, adult life. "Therefore, I planned to create a relaxing environment for her. And I think the best way is to let her be immersed in nature."
Unfortunately, for the total newcomer to gardening, Zhou soon faced difficulties. For example, her clematis would wither overnight. At the worst, she lost one of her 80 clematis saplings every day, which cost her over 100 yuan each. "They just died right before I thought I was about to appreciate its beautiful flowers. It was a hard blow. But I was determined to get over it. I read a lot about clematis, trying to prevent diseases."
During the process, Zhou realized that nature has to be respected, as it rules with no bias.
As she expected, every family member takes responsibility in the garden. Nuomi's grandma loves growing vegetables. She takes care of the tiny patch for fresh and healthy food on the table. Nuomi's grandpa is a retired professor, who appreciates the flowers leisurely with his former colleagues. Zhou's husband has a passion for cooking, especially for open-air hotpot in the middle of the flower garden. As for Nuomi, "She just enjoys everything in the garden." The balcony has become the pride of the family and their source of happiness.
For Zhou, growing flowers is like a process of self-rediscovering. "I thought working was all I was good at. I didn't care enough for my family and my friends. Running the garden has brought me closer to my friends and family. I know (now) how to live my life." At the age of 40, she redefined herself through gardening.