Blooming lovely havens
March's warmer weather often sparks the season's first signs of colour as purple magnolia flowers flutter in the mild southern wind and red azalea buds burst open in the strengthening sunshine.
The flower-heavy branches swaying in the gentle breeze inspire a sense of rebirth and renewal. So join the flocks of birds and butterflies at these oases of tranquillity only metres from the hustle and bustle of the city.
It's time to celebrate. Spring has sprung!
Hong Kong Park
Tel: 2521 5041
The season's warmth quickly brings hyacinths in the park in Mid-Levels out of hibernation. Bulbs sprout stiff stalks that burst open in dense clusters of tiny, bell-shaped flowers of violet, indigo, white and shocking pink. Each colour has a message - white for loveliness, yellow for jealousy and purple for a plea for forgiveness.
Highlight: Stroll along the lake at the heart of the park and admire the ribbon of warm-coloured hyacinths along its bank. On Young Post's last visit, the dainty flowers' heady sweet perfume attracted flocks of visitors and even two white Bali starlings.
There are also many beautiful azaleas and hyacinths at Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens (Tel: 2530 0154), also in Mid-Levels.
In spring, the chief executive's gardens in Central beat Mount Nicholson, Ma On Shan and Lantau Island as the best place to see the city's azaleas at their majestic best.
Hundreds of bulbs in the grounds of the historic building erupt in a palette of pinks, reds and whites; blooming flowers cover every twig.
Six species are native to Hong Kong's countryside, including the bubblegum-pink Hong Kong azalea and the magenta purple Farrer's azalea with red spots. Look out for news of the forthcoming open day, which is free to all visitors.
Highlight: Heavy blooms, such as red azaleas with pink-tipped petals and South China azalea, in pure white with its distinctive wavy margins, are the showstoppers.
Tel: 2445 5805
Clouds of nectar-rich butterfly weed and pink, round-leaved rotala waving in the wind distract birdwatchers at this nature reserve in Tin Shui Wai.
Visitors often lower their binoculars to gaze at botanical treasures along the wooden plank walkways. The blooms, from desmos - drooping yellow flowers like an eagle's claws on thin stalks - to banana shrubs - creamy yellow flowers with fuzzy purple stamens - are just as appealing as the birds.
Highlight: Spiny bear's breeches, stretching 1.5m high, give the park a bold architectural blast of elegant spikes of mauve and white flowers.
Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden
Tel: 2483 7200
Tucked among rolling hills in the New Territories, the 148-hectare Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden is blessed with an abundance of lush and verdant countryside. Spring flowers paint the slopes in rainbow colours. It is a brilliant time to meander through the tranquil terraces dotted with golden trumpet trees and red powder puffs, and inspect the delightful gardens covered with scarlet dombeyas and Chinese privet.
However, the garden is not for the faint-hearted walker, because the paths are often
steep and the routes aren't
usually short. As for the flowers, as the weather fluctuates, the blooming period may vary.
Highlight: Common camellias near the wildlife pond and convent garden often steal the scene. The large, soft pink flowers above glossy green foliage are neat and showy, rather like roses.