Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Suzhou and its gardens






If you're a garden historian visiting China, there is one destination that matters most and that is Suzhou. Known as the 'Venice of China', its extensive hydraulic network of canals from the lower Yangtze made it easy to bring water (an essential element of Chinese landscapes) into the garden, and its temperate climate and high humidity is ideal for the characteristic plants of the Chinese tradition as expressed not just on the ground but also in literature and art. There is a Chinese saying that 'the garden is an artistic recreation of nature; a landscape painting in three dimensions' and in fact the practices of painting, poetry and calligraphy were considered inseparable from the physical creation of the garden. All were the province of the wealthy scholars of south China in the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. The private gardens that they created, for retreat and meditation and hosting fellow scholars, are best preserved in Suzhou.

2 comments:

Sylvia said...

Lovely photographs, thank you for taking time out from your holiday to share these with us.

Best wishes Sylvia (England)

Benjamin Vogt said...

In all of my garden research it's fascinating to me how, as I reflect over all your China posts, that gardenign is art that CONNECTS us to nature and the world. Of course, art, and gardening (as poetry, painting, calligraphy, etc) may be the single best way to connect to and realize ourselves. Yet, there's an environmentalist in me saying hey, ARE gardens ok? Are they acts of hubris? Yes, bu more no. I'm always conflicted about garden design: is it interpretation, perfection, reconnection, all of the above.... Ramble ramble.

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