In the heart of Kunming city, Yunnan province, an elderly couple’s sprawling 300-square-metre residence has transformed into a verdant paradise teeming with 1,000 cacti. This botanical marvel, which caught the attention of mainland Chinese social media users, is the labor of love of Liu Yonghong, a 65-year-old Sichuan native, and his dedicated wife.
Since moving to Kunming in 2016, Liu, an ardent plant aficionado for over 16 years, and his wife embarked on their journey of curating a vast collection of plants. They were drawn to Kunming, renowned for its conducive natural environment that supports a diverse range of flora and fauna.
The couple’s green haven initially housed a myriad of over 1,000 plant varieties ranging from vibrant geraniums and elegant roses to hardy agaves. But it was the unique charm of cacti, with their sharp spines juxtaposed against delicate blossoms, that truly captivated them. The resilient nature of the cacti, which required minimal maintenance and yet flourished beautifully, only heightened their allure.
Motivated by their burgeoning passion for cacti, the couple made a heartwarming gesture of donating their other plants to fellow enthusiasts. To cater to the unique needs of their cacti, they invested two million yuan (approximately US$276,000) in crafting a meticulously designed 150-square-metre, nine-metre-high greenhouse.
Today, their sanctuary boasts an astounding 400 to 500 cactus species. One of their prized possessions stands tall at 7.5 meters, revealing its magnificent blossoms only under the cover of night and retreating as noon approaches. Proud of their unparalleled collection, Liu remarked to The Paper, “We probably are the only people in China growing so many cacti at home.”
Their love for nature doesn’t end with plants. The property is also home to parrots, turtles, koi, and crickets, each of which holds a special place in Liu’s heart. Even when traveling, he makes it a point to check on them, attesting to his unwavering commitment.
Life hasn’t been without its challenges for Liu. A diagnosis of myasthenia gravis, a rare condition causing muscle weakness, might have been a setback for many, but for Liu, it bolstered his zest for life. He candidly shared, “You cannot just wait for death, you must enjoy life because we only live once.”
Their heartening journey has resonated with many online, with comments ranging from admiration for their cactus haven to heartfelt appreciation for Liu’s inspiring perspective on life. Their story joins a series of captivating tales from China, celebrating unique collections, like the father splurging on his son’s Ultraman card collection or the Beijing resident’s 5,000-piece Olympic memento trove.