Many people believe red leaves at Fragrant Hills are synonymous with Beijing's beautiful autumn. They are partly right.
Autumn is also the best season for appreciating the golden ginkgo leaves, especially this weekend, Xuan Yingpin, a gardener who has worked nine years at Dajuesi Temple, said yesterday.
"The day-and-night temperature differences these days make the color of the leaves fresh and beautiful," she said.
Located at the foot of the Xishan Mountain, the temple is an ideal retreat to sit under some of the world's oldest ginkgo trees and appreciate their golden leaves.
Known as "living fossils", the ginkgo trees were densely growing in North America, Asia and Europe 270 million years ago, but now they can only be found in China and Japan.
The oldest tree in the temple was planted in the Liao Dynasty (907-1125). Most ginkgo woods are more than 100 years old.
Sitting in the yard of the temple teahouse, sipping a cup of green tea and appreciating the peace was the favorite pastime of the late General Zhu De, one of the founding members of China.
Zhu often stayed here for a couple of days to relax, according to Li Xue, from Beijing Administration of Cultural Heritage.
Autumn is also the best season in Beijing for hiking.
Besides coming here for the golden butterflies, visitors can also climb the Xishan Mountain nearby, where the rolling hills here are said to resemble a sleeping lion and offer a perfect viewing angle to overlook the downtown city.
"I love Beijing's autumn more than any other season of the year. We feel more refreshed every year we came back from here," a 62-year-old woman surnamed Xu told METRO after she and her husband returned from their hiking.
The viewing period lasts until mid-November, according to Sun Rongfen, director of the temple's managing office.
Other ancient temples such as Tanzhesi Temple, and Dabeisi Temple at Badachu Park all have famous ancient ginkgo trees.
The "Ginkgo Tree Boulevard", next to the east and north gates of Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Haidian district, is also popular.