The Gardens of Suzhou
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press
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A friend once remarked that I was fortunate that I cannot read the Chinese language (apart from a few characters) when I visit the gardens of Suzhou. He said when he walks through the gardens, the preponderance of text continually tells him what he is supposed to see and experience. ...
Visiting the Gardens
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The gardens were built with the intent of providing pleasure to the family and invited guests. When you now visit the garden, do so as if you are an invited guest. You should enter the gate and proceed to the reception hall or main hall of the residence as this is where you would have been greeted by the owner. ...
Map of Suzhou
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The land—topography, waters, stones, vegetation, and climate—bestows the framework and materials of the great garden traditions of the world. Persian gardens amplify scarce water resources into fragrant courtyards. The Renaissance gardens of Italy negotiate the hills around Rome and Florence ...
Architecture in the Gardens of Suzhou
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A potent contrast exists between the orderly sequence of four-square courtyards fronted by rectangular halls of the residential precinct and the confounding variety of pavilions, rockeries, ponds, corridors, and courtyards in the gardens. The residential halls and courtyards reveal a formal, Confucian hierarchy of relationships ...
The Gardens of Suzhou
Humble Administrator’s Garden (Zhuozheng Yuan)
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The Humble Administrator’s Garden, sometimes referred to as the Garden of the Unsuccessful Politician, is the largest of the Suzhou gardens and is deeply enriched by its association with the esteemed Ming artist Wen Zhengming, who painted views of the garden while a frequent visitor. ...
Lingering Garden (Liu Yuan)
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The Lingering Garden, a dense and intricate garden unmatched by any garden in Suzhou for its variety and intimacy of spaces, is widely regarded as the finest integration of architecture and garden in Suzhou. It also contains the Cloud-Capped Peak, the most acclaimed Tai Lake specimen stone in Suzhou. ...
Lion Grove (Shizilin)
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Lion Grove, sometimes referred to as the Lion Forest, is a former temple garden dominated by an exuberant rockery with dozens of upright stone “lions” gathered around the central pool. The confounding routes of paths through the rockery are remarkable for their variety, richness, and surprises. ...
Surging Wave Pavilion (Canglang Ting)
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The Surging Wave Pavilion has the longest history of any of the remaining gardens in Suzhou with its conception dating from the Song Dynasty construction of the Canglang Ting, or Surging Wave Pavilion, alongside the canal that now fronts the north side of the garden. ...
Master of the Nets Garden (Wangshi Yuan)
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The Master of the Nets Garden is a finely detailed small garden whose origins extend back to the Song Dynasty. The three-courtyard residence elegantly exemplifies the social and familial order of the retired scholar. The relationship between the halls and pavilions in the garden to the square-shaped pond ...
Garden of Harmony (Yi Yuan)
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The Garden of Harmony, sometimes referred to as the Happy Garden, the Garden of Pleasance, or the Pleasant Garden, is a late Qing garden with a few notable attributes—perhaps the most appealing being the double-sided corridor with carved windows that divides the garden into east and west sections. ...
The Couple’s Garden (Ou Yuan)
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The Couple’s Garden, sometimes referred to as Twin Garden or the Couple’s Retreat Garden, is situated on the eastern edge of the old city and is surrounded on three sides by canals with the high, white enclosing walls of the garden constructed directly atop the granite walls of the canals. ...
The Garden of Cultivation (Yi Pu)
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Yi Pu, the Garden of Cultivation—sometimes referred to as Art Orchard or the Herb Garden—is an important Ming Dynasty garden that has an illustrious family association. It boasts the largest quantity of Ming Dynasty relics of all the gardens in Suzhou. ...
The Mountain Villa of Embracing Beauty (Huanxiu Shanzhuang)
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The rockery at the Mountain Villa of Embracing Beauty is widely regarded as the finest in any Chinese garden. The rockery was built by Ge Yuliang (1764–1830), a master of the art of constructing artificial mountains during the reign of the emperor Qianlong. ...
The Mountain Villa of Embracing Emerald (Yongcui Shanzhuang)
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The Mountain Villa of Embracing Emerald, sometimes called the Mountain Villa of Luxuriant Verdure, is located inside the Tiger Hill Pagoda complex northwest of the old city. Located on a steep slope, the garden exploits the liveliness of ascending a series of four terraced courtyards. ...
Crane Garden (He Yuan)
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The garden is entered through the northeast corner of the entry hall, a five-bay hall with whitewashed walls that obscure immediate views into the garden. The corridor then winds up and down and in and out along the eastern side of the garden. Finely scaled spaces are created between the corridor and the high whitewashed eastern wall. ...
Zigzag Garden (Qu Yuan)
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Qu Yuan, also known as the Zigzag Garden or the Former Residence of Yu Yue (noted as such on the plaque at the door), is a modest garden distinguished by a pair of half pavilions that face each other across a deep rectangular pool. The long, narrow garden is enclosed by high white walls that compress the space ...
Carefree Garden (Chang Yuan)
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The Carefree Garden is the best of the very small gardens in Suzhou. The long, narrow space barely accommodates all the elements of the garden: pond, bridge, corridors, terrace, pavilions, halls, hills, rocks, trees, and shrubs. ...
Gardens Near Suzhou
Garden of Retreat and Reflection (Tuisi Yuan), Tongli
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The Garden of Retreat and Reflection, sometimes referred to as the Garden of Meditation, is located in the canal village of Tongli, about twenty kilometers southeast of Suzhou. Although it is the youngest garden included in the guide, built in 1885 during the last decades of the Qing Dynasty, ...
Garden of the Peaceful Mind (Jichang Yuan), Wuxi
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Jichang Yuan was visited and deeply admired by the Qing Emperors Kangxi and Qianlong which led to its great influence on imperial gardens in Beijing and the summer palace at Chengde. It is sometimes referred to as Qin Yuan and is located in Wuxi, a large city on the banks of Tai Lake approximately sixty kilometers west of Suzhou. ...
Garden of Peace and Comfort (Yu Yuan), Shanghai
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The Garden of Peace and Comfort in Shanghai, eighty-five kilometers from Suzhou, is among the largest of the scholar gardens. The large yellow stone rockery and brick carving of the dragon walls and roof figures are exemplary. ...
Garden of Ancient Splendor (Guyi Yuan), Nanxiang
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Guyi Yuan is located in the village of Nanxiang approximately twentyone kilometers north of Shanghai and is accessible via the municipal bus system or hired taxi. Among other attributes, the restaurant at the south gate of the garden is renowned for its xiaolongbao, and a visit to the garden would be incomplete without a lunch of these prized local dumplings. ...
Other Gardens in Suzhou and Region
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The following pages include plans of many of the gardens described in the preceding chapters. These plans provide a means of comparing similarities and differences among the buildings and water in the gardens. ...
Plants in the Gardens of Suzhou
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Stone in the Gardens of Suzhou
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Stones are piled into rockeries and used as revetments along garden streams. Large specimen stones, such as the Cloud Capped Peak in the Lingering Garden, are prominently displayed in courtyards. Smaller specimen stones are carefully fitted to wooden trays for display on long, high tables—a stone version of penzai. ...
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Phoebe Hsu introduced me to the traditions of China and accompanied me on my first visit to the gardens of Suzhou. Laurie Olin—teacher, colleague, and friend (in no particular order)—encouraged, cajoled, and celebrated my effort. Anne Hawley cultivates her garden and, in the process, cultivates those around her. ...
Publication Year: 2012
Series Title: Penn Studies in Landscape Architecture