Gardens of Suzhou

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April 24th 2006
Published: April 24th 2006
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Suzhou is China's well-known "city of gardens", which tops all others in both the number and the artistry of gardens. Dating from Pi Jiang Garden of the Eastern Jing Dynasty,Suzhou's art of gardening has undergone a history of 1, 500 years. There were once over 200 gardens in the city,and 69 of them are still in good preservation today.

The Suzhou garden originated from the desire to retire from the strife of officialdom and to shun from worldly affairs. It seeks the return to Nature and the cultivation of temperament. In Taoist philosophy and the refinement of culture underlies the theme of the garden. Hills and waters,flowers and trees,pavilion, terraces,towers and halls constitute the basic garden elements,while the prominent tone is expressed in the dark colour of roof tiles,the grey of bricks,and chestnut brown of wooden pillars.

Suzhou garden is the Nature in nutshell ,which enables one to "feel the charm of mountains,forest and springs without going out of the noisy surroundings of the town". Its human interest also lies in that the architect, philosopher, poet, painter, and common folk can all find in it the idea,the flavour,the lines and the rhythm. The unfolding of the garden vistas is the verisimilitude of a landscape scroll. When enjoying tea, poem,flower arrangement or playing musical instrument in the garden,one gains the most natural inspiration. To those tourists desiring to understand China, Suzhou garden is the best museum.

This is one place in China that I wish we had more time to explore. In just 1 day that we put aside for Suzhou we only saw 2 of the gardens, Garden of the Master of Nets and Blue Wave Pavilion.

Sometimes the smallest package can contain the most magnificent gift. The Garden of the Master of the Nets is a clear example of this. It is the smallest of the Suzhou residential gardens, yet it is the most impressive because of its use of space which creates the illusion of an area that is much greater than its actual size. Even more than the architectural achievement is the mood of tranquility and harmony that this humble garden embodies.

Blue Wave Pavilion is the oldest of the Suzhou gardens that can be traced back to the Northern Song Dynasty (906-1127). During that part of history, a scholar Su Shunqing was demoted and sent to Suzhou. He bought the garden and built the pavilion in a setting adjacent to water that was on the property that would enhance the beauty of the garden. The garden was then named Canglang Pavilion in honor of his namesake, Canglang Wong.

Unlike other gardens, Canglang Pavilion emphasizes the harmony between man made buildings and the natural environment.There are also winding corridors with pavilions that link the hills and pools together. As you walk along these corridors that follows a path alongside the unique stone formations and strategically planted ancient trees, it seems as if you were walking in a primitive forest. The architectures that have been built in the garden are simply and classically designed which present a Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) style.

Enough of the history lesson I suppose. Though they say Master of Nets is the most impressive, Qing and I thoroughly enjoyed Blue Wave Pavilion more. Maybe it was the heat that contributed to this. Blue Wave had trees and gazebos all around, creating a lot of shade in which you can hide from the sun.

Well since I feel like Im all over the place, lets also talk about the city itself. As we were driving down the main street to get to our first garden, I was a little disappointed with what the city had to offer. There just didnt seem like there was much around. This all changed after we left the Master of Nets and walked to Blue Wave. The street was shaded, there were plenty of restaurants on offer. And the prices!!! The prices for the goods we bought in Suzhou were easily half the price of the same items in Beijing and Shanghai. Gotta love that.

Oh yes, on a side note. Can anyone tell me what breed the puppy is in the pictures?

Additional photos below
Photos: 16, Displayed: 16


Master of NetsMaster of Nets
Master of Nets

This tree is 900 years old! =O
Side street of SuzhouSide street of Suzhou
Side street of Suzhou

I just love Suzhou outside the main Blvd.
Cute PuppyCute Puppy
Cute Puppy

We happened to run into this guy on our way to Blue Wave Pavilion
Cute PuppyCute Puppy
Cute Puppy

Look how small!
Hard SeatHard Seat
Hard Seat

Qing hating the 1.5 hours on a train in the hard seat section.
Hard SeatHard Seat
Hard Seat

Jeff loving the 1.5 hours on a train in the hard seat section.

26th June 2007

Doodoo head
You gotta take a better picture of the dog if you want someone to identify what breed it is! From what I can see, I'd say it's a mutt. So you guys are traveling through China right now? Enjoy, but you should really come to Korea where the mosquitoes will chase after you ALL day.

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