Classical Chinese garden also can be called traditional
Chinese garden. With its long history, rich cultural
significance, special characteristics, and charming
artistic enchantment, it has been regarded the most
important and leading gardening system among the
gardening systems in the world.
The Chinese consider gardens a serious art form and
as with painting, sculpture and poetry aim to attain in
their design the balance, harmony, proportion and
variety that are considered essential.
The art of the Chinese garden is closely related to
Chinese landscape painting - it is not a literal imitation
of a natural landscape, but the capturing of its
essence and spirit. It is a landscape painting in three
The garden is created by the human hand, but should
appear as if created by heaven.
Now China has about 1,000 classical gardens.
The most important examples of Chinese
landscape gardens are located in Beijing,
Chengde and cities south of the Yangtze river
such as Suzhou and Wuxi.
History of classical Chinese garden
The art of Chinese garden has a history of more
than 3,000 years. The Records of the Historian, tells
that in the Shang Dynasty, there were special places,
called “You” ，for the rulers to enjoy the beauty of
After Emperor Qin Shihuang of the Qin
Dynasty(221BC-206BC) unified China, Shanglin
Garden was built. It shows that the garden was
called „yuan‟.Emperor Wudi of the Han Dynasty
followed the scale of the Shanglin Garden to build
the Taiye Pond in the Shanglin Garden.
History of classical Chinese garden
In the Western Han Dynasty people begun to build
private gardens. The development of classical
Chinese garden during the 400 years in the Han
Dynasty laid the foundation for the art of Chinese
In the Tang and Song Dynasties, the art of Chinese
garden matured. Private gardens in the Song
Dynasty also developed rapidly. The private gardens
were mainly built with streams or hills or all kinds of
plants and flowers or halls and pavilions.
History of classical Chinese garden
The Ming and Qing Dynasties were the golden age of
garden building. In the middle and the late Ming
Dynasty, the artists summed up their experience in
designing gardens by writing articles about gardens,
which laid the foundation, in theory, as well as in
Chinese garden culture matured as a comprehensive
school of its own during the this period of time, after the
practice of many preceding dynastic periods, and rose to
become one of three garden construction schools along
with Western Asia and Europe.
The creation of classical Chinese gardens
depended on mountains, rivers,
buildings,plants, animals and even the
weather. In these gardens usually the ground
is like that of a mountain area. This kind of
garden layout imitates real terrain. The hills
in classical gardens provide natural
surroundings for visitors. Looking at the hills,
people feel as if they live in a mountains area
and enjoy the beauty and stillness of nature.
Elements for creating the
Decorative rocks, sometimes termed Chinese scholar‟s rocks, are
used both for structural and sculptural purposes. The sculptural
Taihu rock is especially prized because it represents wisdom and
immortality, and is only procurable from Tai Lake, just west of
Suzhou. During the Song dynasty, they were the most expensive
objects in the empire. Such rocks, combined with streams and
pools, form the basis of a garden's plan. The Chinese word for
landscape, shan shui, literally means "mountains and waters"
while a common phrase for making a garden means "digging
ponds and piling mountains".
Elements for creating the
Water is the blood of a traditional Chinese
garden. The most important element of a
garden is water, in any form: ponds, lakes,
streams, rivers and water-falls. The
movement of flowing water gives pulsating
life to the garden’s cliff, stones, bushes
Elements for creating the garden Trees and flowers, especially in private gardens,
are carefully selected for the overall layout of the
gardens, because of the limited space. Plants and
flowers reflecting the beauty of the four seasons
are planted. In spring, peach trees blossom; in
summer, lotuses blossom; in autumn, the maple
leaves change color; and in winter, the evergreen,
bamboo and plum trees provide greenery.
Among the most popular flowers are lotuses,
peonies, chrysanthemums and orchids. Special
flowers are planted to attract bees and butterflies.
These small insets make the gardens more lively.
Elements for creating the gardenStructures important structures of garden
Among the most
ground are walkways, pavilions and bridges.
Timber frame construction plays a decisive role
here. Pavilion-like houses have neither a harsh
nor dominant effect, but rather bend effortlessly
into their general surroundings.
More specificly, we can divide the structures in
classical Chinese gardens into the following :
Lobby, Corridor ,Parlour, Waterside Kiosk ,Storied
Chamber , Bridge ,Storied Pavilion , Pagoda, Kiosk ,
Categories of classical Chinese
There are two major ways to classify Chinese gardens.
First, they can be classified into imperial gardens and private
gardens according the ownerships of the gardens.
Second, in terms of geographical location, there are northern
garden, which are mostly found in Luoyang, Kaifeng, and Beijing,
with those in Beijing as representatives; gardens in the lower
Yangtze River valley, which are mostly found in Nanjing, Wuxi,
Suzhou and Hangzhou, with those in Suzhou as the most
representative; and the Lingnan school of gardens, which are
found in Guangzhou, Dongguan and Shunde.
The Humble Administrator's Garden
Covering 51,950 sq.m,the Humble
Administrator's Garden is the largest of all
classical gardens in Suzhou .It is centered upon
the broad expanse of a lake,making up about
one fifth of the total area. With well spaced
buildings,the garden landscape and water scape
are simple,extensive and natural,possessing the
traditional appearances of the Ming Dynasty.It is
divided into three parts;the eastern,middle and
western parts. The house lies in the south of the
The Lion Forest Garden
Compactly yet harmoniously spaced,the Lion Forest
Garden has a prominent part for series of man-made
mountains with various buildings around the lake ,and an
artificial waterfall and cliffs at the edge of the lake on the
west. Remains of the 14th century man-made
mountains,covering 1,152 sq.m.and being the largest of
all at Suzhou,can be still seen today.Noted for its
labyrinthine mountains with winding pathways and
caverns,old pines and cypress trees,awesome peaks and
jogged rocks of grotesque shapes resembling dancing
lions with striking and unusral poses,it possesses with
pride the true delights of mountain and forest scenery in
limited space with a flavor of Zen Buddhism.
The earliest imperial garden dates back to
the late Shang dynasty (c. 1600-1027 BC)
with the construction of an imperial hunting
ground, followed by the Shanglin garden built
by the Emperor Qinshihuangdi in his capital
at Xianyang. The latter was completed by the
Han Emperor Wudi (r. 140-87 BC) and is
thought to have been the basis upon which
the Summer Palace was designed.
The represants of the imperial gardens: the
Summer Palace and Yuanmingyuan
The Summer Palace
The summer Palace, located approximately twelve kilometers to the
northwest of Beijing's city proper, was first built in 1750 and rebuilt in
1886. An outstanding example of imperial gardens in classical
Chinese style, the Summer Palace spreads on an area of 2.9 million
square metres, three fourths of which are water surfaces. Its major
attractions are the Wanshou (longevity) Hill and the Kunming (Jade
Spring)Lake. The garden is a showcase of pavilions in diversified,
exotic designs which are strung together by a corridor more than
seven hundred metres in length and a seemingly unending chain of
balustrades of snow-white marble. With western hills simmering in
the background, the Summer Palace is strewn with postcard perfect
sceneries, including the Yuquan(Jade Spring)Pagoda, the Kunming
Lake, and the bridge with seventeen arches. The huge garden's
artistic style, which is at once kaleidoscopic and harmonious, is
attributable to the unknown designers' ingenious landscaping skills.
Ways of creating the garden’s View
Generally speaking, the Chinese architectuers
often use the following ways to creat a garden
and recreate the nature.
obstructive scenery( blocking view ) , adding the
view, vista line (vista) , opposite scenery (view in
opposite place) , enframed scenery , leaking
through scenery , borrowed scenery, view
Japanese gardens are a
combination of many
complex factors like history ,
social structure and religion.
The Japanese people were
relatively late developers in
the field of horticulture and
creating gardens when
compared with other
Core values of Japanese
gardening have been largely
shaped by Chinese culture
Religion ,in particular Buddhism
,also had a major influence on
According to Shintoism ,the native
religion of Japan everything in
nature is sacred; trees, plants, and
They used white gravel in temples
as to keep areas clean and white
as a means of enticing the spirits
and gods to visit these places.
Shintoism is not much the worship
of rocks ,but the veneration of the
spirit that created those objects.
Types of Japanese Gardens
1. The large park or stroll gardens
(which are in effect
public parks with
ponds and lakes).
2. The Zen temple gardens (which are
usually dry landscape gardens).
Legacy of ancient Chinese imperial park
The Chinese imperial hunting parks complete
with vast man-made lakes and miniature
mountains and islands.
The imperial gardens were created on a
massive scale and filled with all manner of
choice indigenous plants, shrubs, and trees.
China has one of most diverse collection of
temperate and semi tropical plants in the world .
Much of inventory ornamental plants in western
gardens today comes from china.
Stroll gardens are by definition gardens for
walking in. here visitors can enjoy a leisurely
stroll taking in all beautiful scenery. All the
ingredients that make a Japanese garden are
here- rocks, plants, and water.
Also described as “gardens of emptiness”,
Not gardens in conventional sense of word,
but sublime works of art.
Generally, a garden that has nothing but a
few bare rocks in patch of sand.
Their gardens were uncluttered and reduced
to the bare minimum.
Some refer to them as mini-malsit gardens
Also called “Kare-sansui” which means
empty land scape.
Zen warriors(highly educated) developed a
very sophisticated and refined sense of
artistic taste and that combined with their
very simple and frugal life style evolved into
the characteristic Zen style that we know
religion and the tea ceremony.
On first impression tea
garden appears to be
simply a small
consisting of a few
stepping stones plus a
lantern, water basin
and tiny hut.
The traditional tea garden is in fact two garden
There is the simple outer garden, where guest
gather in a waiting area, and the inner garden
that contains the tea house.
The outer garden is approached
by a stepping stone path, lit by
a rough stone lantern.
The tea garden is essentially
a small garden no bigger
than the passage way of a
normal suburban house
including the backyard.
The stepping stone path
leads to the waiting area
which has a simple hut like
structure with a bench often
referred to as the waiting
The entrance area,
the stepping stone
path is the outer
Beyond this is the
inner garden, which
has the tea house
courtyards are not
large areas, in fact are
very small spaces
seldom more than fifty
to a hundred square
feet in size.
gravel and a few
rocks or just a
of bamboo or rush
will do the trick.
The scale of
makes it ideally
suited for indoor,
roof top and atrium
The trees and plants are chosen not just for
their beauty and gracefulness but also for
The deep greens of pines symbolize timeless
and longevity, while the colors of the maples
and cherries reflect the changing seasons.
evergreen shrub which
come in many varieties
ranging from deep green
to variegated golden
It is a tough plant and
can survive in poor soil
and dry conditions.
Cotoneaster: low spreading bush with
colorful berries and lovely foliage.
Choisya ternata: it is evergreen and has
lovely glossy foliage and that is aromatic
and very fragrant flowers, popularly
known as Mexican orange.
Azaleas: a semi evergreen shrub,
bloom in April and early may and are
mostly pink, white and purple in color.
Viburnum: they all have very interesting foliage
and flowers with a typical large garden tree
Nandina domestica: sometimes called
the sacred bamboo, very graceful plant
and semi evergreen which is grown both
for its beautiful foliage and crimson
Fatsia japonica: large dark green glossy
leaves, good for shady areas, often
seen as a house plant this makes it a
Taxus cuspidata (Japanese yew): they
make extremely handsome trees as they
are easy to maintain and slow growing,
Pinus thumbergii (black
pine): it is the most
popular pine for garden
work in Japan.
The needles are deep
green and the bark
almost jet black.
Pinus parviflora (white pine): it is a
compact tree with grayish white needles
and branches that forms beautiful
Acers: it is a small tree but in mountains
of Japan they can grow as tall as eighty
It is a primitive plant and there are
many different varieties in existence.
Moss needs damp shady conditions
in order to flourish.
In constantly dry, sunny aspect, it will
moss is most often found in
woodland area under the shade of
trees where nothing else will grow.
In damp conditions moss will grow
naturally without any help from men.
The rocks are like the coordinates of a
Choosing the right type of rock and
positioning them on right place.
Choice of rocks: size shape
color, and texture…
Size is meaningful
only when viewed in
the context of the
scale of the garden &
its relationship with
the neighboring rocks
and other artifacts.
Variation in rock sizes
offer greater contrast
& interest resulting in
the more dynamic
arrangement of rocks.
Rocks are often used to represent islands
and mountains, so conical or dome shape
would be the obvious choice.
Colors, generally bright colors are avoided.
Color of rocks generally varies from grey to
black, and from yellow to brick red on other
Texture, one of the vital characteristics of any
A jagged textured rock gives feeling of
timelessness and dignity.
Smooth rocks like water worn stones or
glacial boulders convey the feeling of
antiquity especially when combined in an
Placement of rocks :
Placing of rocks in Japanese gardens is quite
rhythmic just like a music composition where
individual rocks acts as musical notes.
Certain guidelines or ground rules are followed
to achieve good results such as :
Rocks of varying sizes are used to emphasize
Generally asymmetric arrangement of rocks is
preferred over symmetrical arrangement.
Sometimes there is a tradition for arranging
the rocks to reflect the philosophical concept
heaven, earth and man.
Water is used not just for its visual quality,
but also for its sound.
The Japanese have learnt to exploit the
sound of water in all its various form. it varies
from powerful waterfall to water falling into a
water basin, creating different emotions.
There are number of ways
in which water can be used
in Japanese gardens:
As a pond or lake setting, in
a stream and as a waterfall.
If the objective is to create
an expensive atmosphere
then a pond or lake is the
If the aim is dynamic effect,
which will stimulate both
visual and acoustic senses
then waterfall is more