Monday, June 30, 2008

Chinese gardens - a few details




Beautiful bamboo plant labels used in Suzhou. I searched in vain for some of these to bring home...the lack of a free market shows in my utter inability to find any garden implements or artifacts for purchase in what is widely touted as China's garden city. Meanwhile, the stalls outside the gardens have the same selection of silk purses and gold plastic Buddhas being hawked all over China. I finally found some garden items at a flower market in Beijing, but there were few things sized for bringing back on the plane and most items were of the sort that are already imported to the states, anyway.



Doubled clay pots used for setting out plants...the bog standard Chinese pot is shorter and wider than the typical Western one, and has a narrow rolled lip rather than our wide flattened one. I searched in vain for these, too, even in local markets where there were no tourists and I was pointed at and asked for photos.



The doubled pot technique was often used for the display of potted plants in the garden as well. When container plants were present, they were usually placed around the perimeter of an area of open courtyard, serving to soften the hard outlines of the rock formations. In the second photo above, the pots are placed upon the same rounded stones that serve as foundations for the posts of the pagodas.


Young trees are uniformly staked with wooden poles for bracing; more attractive, I think, than our outward leaning tree stakes. The trunks were often wrapped with rope; I'm not sure why (perhaps to ward off some insect?) but I like the way it looks. The wrapped trunks seem sculptural, especially in mass municipal plantings. When evergreens are braced, the poles are extended through the foliage and out the sides in a giant 'x' reminiscent of the chopstick hairstyles once favored by well-to-do Chinese.

3 comments:

kate smudges said...

The doubled pot idea is great. I love the look of it. It would have been wonderful if you could have located some of the bamboo plant labels. Those are intriguing.

Meenoo said...

Hi,
Just wanted to let you know that I've been reading your blog and love it. I was a history/ anthropology major in college and I am seriously geeking out over your blog. How wonderful to get a degree in garden history!
M

Gabriel Rochard - architecte de jardins said...

Hi Arcady
Wer just had a special course on chinese garden art at my school, held by Che Bing Chiu, a specialist of this garden style. And he talked a lot about this very garden...
Your article is very interesting, thank you!

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