Suzhou gardens

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Suzhou Classical GardensA preface written by Ye Shengtao

It is said there are more than one hundred classical gardens in Suzhou, China;

But I had only visited a dozen of them

I had only visited a dozen of them

and some in other places.

As to my general impression, I think that Suzhou garden is a representative for all classical gardens in China.

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Gardens in other places have more or less been influenced by Suzhou. Jinci garden, Shanxi Province

Therefore, one who likes to appreciate Chinese classical garden, Suzhou is the first option.

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Taking measures suited to the local conditions, garden designers and craft masters carried out their project with their own conception. A successfully built garden is certainly different to another.

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It seemed as if all garden designers and craft masters pursued a fundamental idea: no matter where a tourist stands, there would always be a perfect and aesthetical picture in his sight.

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To achieve their goal, they were fastidious about the arrangement of pavilion, platform, veranda and pavilion terrace,

To achieve their goal, they were fastidious about the arrangement of pavilion, platform, veranda and pavilion terrace,10

fastidious about the combination of rockery and pond,

fastidious about the combination of rockery and pond,11

fastidious about the foil of flowers, grass and trees,

and fastidious about the arrangement of distant view and nearby view.

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To sum up, all elements in a classical garden would be used to create a perfect and aesthetical painting without any defeat.

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They only wished visitors would obtain an aesthetical perception as if they had been to a picture; and their achievement had realized their wish. No one who had come to a Suzhou Garden wouldnt think or speak as if they had walked through a picture.

They only wished visitors would obtain an aesthetical perception as if they had been to a picture; and their achievement had realized their wish. No one who had come to a Suzhou Garden wouldnt think or speak as if they had walked through a picture.

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Chinese architectures, from ancient palace to modern residence, most of them are symmetrical; what the left part is, so do the right part.

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But Suzhou gardens dont stress symmetry at all. It seems as if they had deliberately prevented symmetrical arrangement.

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If there is a pavilion or a corridor at east, there would never be a similar one at west.

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?Why? Take painting for analogizing, symmetrical architecture is a pattern drawing, but classical garden is an aesthetic painting. Aesthetical painting requires natural delight, not symmetry.

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There must be rockery and pond in Suzhou classical gardens.

There must be rockery and pond in Suzhou classical garden. It may be described rockery pilling is rather an art than a technical work. 20

It may be described rockery pilling is rather an art than a technical work.

May be range upon range of mountains, may be several small hills assorted with bamboo, flowers and trees, it depends on designer and craft masters rich experience and magnanimity, which enable tourists to forget Suzhou city during, and to feel as if they have stayed among mountains.

May be range upon range of mountains, may be several small hills assorted with bamboo, flowers and trees, it depends on designer and craft masters rich experience and magnanimity, which enable tourists to forget Suzhou city during mountain climbing, and to feel as if they have stayed among mountains. 22

As to ponds, most of them introduce running water.

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Some gardens pond is quite broad; it is then taken as the center of the whole garden, assorted with other sceneries.

Some gardens pond is quite broad; it is then taken as the center of the whole garden, assorted with other sceneries.24

If the shape of the water surface likes a stream, bridge is usually installed.

If the shape of the water surface likes a stream, bridge is usually installed.25

If there are two bridges or more, the bridge style should be different to each other; no similar bridge would be installed.

Stone bank at pond or stream edge is seldom to be piled neatly; it is always piled curvedly in varied height as natural. Several exquisite stones may be laid there with some planted flowers and grass, in order to obtain an effect that the sight would become a beautiful picture viewed from any angle.

Stone bank at pond or stream edge is seldom to be piled neatly; it is always piled curvedly in varied height as natural. Several exquisite stones may be laid there with some planted flowers and grass, in order to obtain an effect that the sight would become a beautiful picture viewed from any angle.27

There are golden fish and carp with different color bred in pond.

Lotus flowers and water lily would be blossoming in summer.

Lotus flowers and water lily would be blossoming in summer.

The sight-fishes swimming among lily leaves is also an excellent scenery for painting.

Tree plantation and trimming of Suzhou gardens would also focus on the mood for a picture. Bended or lifting, tall and short trees are mingled together to appear their lively posture. Hardwoods and evergreens are planted neighborly, and so do the flowers of different blossom seasons; so they would be never lonely all the year round.

No pine or cypress would be trimmed as a pagoda; no trees would be planted along a path as a parade; it is not preferable from Chinese aesthetical judgment.

There are ancient wisterias in some gardens; the flexed and bony branch itself is an excellent topic of a painting. It seems as if bedecked in jewels in blossom season. Visitors would fell an inexpressible sense of prosperous and joy.

To visit Suzhou garden, visitors would inevitably pay attention to lattice walls and corridors. There are walls for partitioning and corridors for setting boundary; and thus the view depth would increase with increasing of the arrangement.

But there are carved pierce works of different pattern on the wall and most corridors are supported by columns only. As a matter of fact, the partition has not kept partitioned and the boundary has not set a boundary; it would further increase the view depth.

Some gardens have put a large mirror at a suitable position; so the sight depth would become more and the garden scenery almost to be doubled.

Visitors would not ignore that Suzhou gardens pay attention to sight beauty at every nook and corner.

There are bundles of book wrapping grass (popular name of Ophiopogon Japonicas or Mondo) planted along a step way;

mountain climbing tiger (popular name of ivy) is climbing up a wall.

It may be too monotony if an opened window is just opposing a white wall, several bamboo or palm trees would be added.

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Such and such would simply enable visitors to enjoy beauty even viewing a local and minute space.

Pattern design and carving skill of doors and windows inside of Suzhou gardens are all top art crafts;

all of them were worked with great care and never be vulgar; showing an ingenuity craftsmanship even if the work was simple and frugal.

Looking at a four, eight or twelve-leaf door or window, everyone would praise its beautiful pattern design.

Photographers like them most; they consider light and shadow to catch satisfactory photos.

Different to Beijing classical gardens, Suzhou gardens are seldom to use color drawing.

Most of the beams, columns, doors and windows are painted with Canton lacquer which is not dazzlingly bright.

Walls are white.

The lower part of some in-door walls would be paved with terrazzo tiles; the light grey color would contrast the white.

Roof tiles and eaves are all pale white in color; harmonized with the green of grass and trees, these colors would set a calm and relaxed tone.

It would further enrich the scenery during blossom season.

There are more what I might narrate; but I am not going to write here anymore.

*Suzhou Classical Gardens*Ye Shengtao** It is said there are more than one hundred classical gardens in Suzhou, China; I had only visited a dozen of them and some in other places. As to my general impression, I think that Suzhou garden is representative for all classical gardens in China. Gardens in other places have more or less been influenced by Suzhous. Therefore, one who likes to appreciate Chinese classical garden, Suzhou is the first option.

Taking measures suited to the local conditions, garden designers and master contractors carried out their project with their own conception. A successfully built garden is certainly different to another. But all different Suzhou classical gardens possess a common feature. It seemed as if all garden designers and master contractors pursued a fundamental idea: no matter where a visitor stands, there would always be a perfect and aesthetical picture in his sight. To achieve their goal, they were fastidious about the layout of pavilion, platform, veranda and pavilion terrace, fastidious about the combination of rockery and pond, fastidious about the foil of flowers, grass and tree, and fastidious about the arrangement of distant view and nearby view. To sum up, all elements in a classical garden are used to create a perfect and aesthetical picture without any defeat.They only wished visitors would obtain an aestheti