© Tourism Bureau (Photo credit: Lin Hui-mei)
Yuli Town in Hualien County is a small town populated by people of many ethnic groups. The different ethnic groups that have settled here include the Hakka, Amis, Pingpu, and Chiayi Zhuqi. The period when a large number of daylilies were planted was when immigrants came from Chiayi County. The immigration occurred because in the 48th year of the Republic of China (1959), the famous "Eight-Seven Floods" occurred. Many farmers in Taiwan’s western region of Chiayi lost all their production and houses overnight, so they relocated to the vast and sparsely populated mountains of Hualien.
Because the plains were already taken by earlier immigrants and used for planting, these newly arriving immigrants had to move to the foothills or hilly areas to live. There they planted a variety of crops. The residents who were forced to relocate their homes originally planted crops such as sweet potatoes, corn and beans on the mountains, but after their lives became stable, they also reared chickens and pigs. Following harvests, they transported their crops by hand down the mountain and sold them in exchange for daily necessities, white rice and other food.
Later, the residents discovered that the local soil and climate were suitable for planting orange daylilies, whose Chinese name means “golden needles,” and the flower buds could be preserved after the harvest. This was very convenient for the farmers due to the poor traffic and road conditions at the time. Since they also enjoyed good harvests, they began to plant daylilies in large amounts. Over the years, Chike Mountain and Sixty Stone Mountain – two main regions for growing daylilies - have undergone continuous development and construction and today is a well-known scenic spot in eastern Taiwan.
© Tourism Bureau (Photo credit: Kong Shi-long)
"Golden Needle Flowers" as daylilies are called in Chinese, are also nicknamed “one day flower” and “forgetful grass.” They bloom every year from July to September. They were originally a crop that farmers in the eastern region depended on for their livelihood. Since the mature flower buds must be harvested in just one day and the blossomed flowers are not edible, they easily lose their economic value if they are not harvested in time. As it’s very difficult to harvest all the daylily buds in one day, the daylilies that are not harvested in time become a beautiful sea of flowers. However, for the farmers of Chike Mountain, the flowers are not planted for ornamental reasons, so the sea of flowers is actually regrettable to them because they are flowers that cannot be harvested in time. Nonetheless, the beauty of the flowers has turned these two regions into popular tourist attractions and a photographers’ dream.
Since 1990, the local government has successively developed the leisure farming industry in the two key daylily producing areas of Chike Mountain and Sixty Stones Mountain. It has also offered guidance and training to farmers on how to manage home stays and how to provide guided tours to visitors. After local residents’ efforts to fix up and improve the daylily growing environment, these two areas have turned into a popular tourist destination that is not over developed and is enjoying an environmental rejuvenation. The Hualien Flower Festival, an annual flower viewing event in the Hualien area, has also been launched from July to September every year, during the production season for daylilies. In addition to enjoying the beautiful scenery of the sea of daylilies, visitors to Hualien can also join nighttime ecological observation tours, go stargazing, and taste cuisine made with daylilies. Local tourism companies will also organize activities during daylily blooming season to let visitors pick daylilies, go whale watching, boating and do other related activities.
Located along the coast, Chike Mountain’s peak is 800 meters to 1,200 meters above sea level. Chike Mountain boasts a pleasant and refreshing climate. The Daylily Park on the mountain covers an area of 300 hectares and is located at the Chike Mountain Terrace in Yuli Town. It is the main and largest daylily cultivation area in Taiwan. July and August each year are an important harvest period for daylilies. Every year, Chike Mountain Terrace in Yuli Township holds a "Daylily Flower Season" activity. During this time, Chike Mountain is full of yellow daylilies swaying in the wind. In addition to producing daylilies, Chike Mountain also produces the so-called “Taiwan Black Gold” – a variety of tea. Tea trees cover about 60 hectares of land here. Due to the fog on the mountain, the quality of the tea is considered excellent.
Nearby is Sixty Stone Mountain, located in the northeastern part of Fuli Township. The daylily planting area here reaches 300 hectares. August to September every year is the flowering season of daylilies on Sixty Stone Mountain. In recent years, the East Rift Valley National Scenic Area Administration has built 10 pavilions of different shapes and sizes on Sixty Stone Mountain. They are named after different types of daylilies or extremely elegant literary words. The views from each pavilion are interesting; they are either of the coastal mountains, the spectacular sea of daylilies or the East Rift Valley’s farmland. Watching the starry sky at night is also a popular activity for tourists; it’s like lying on a dark velvet cloth and looking up at diamonds in the sky. In addition to viewing the beautiful scenery, you can also enjoy the local restaurants serving food made with daylily buds and Hakka village's special Hakka cuisine. If you come during other seasons, you can also experience the charming scenery of Sixty Stone Mountain, especially in the winter. From Sixty Stone Mountain, you can see the sea of rapeseed flowers in the East Rift Valley; it’s like a huge oil painting spread out before your eyes.