Garden building is considered a chief component of Chinese Culture which creatively shows the natural landscapes in miniature. The Chinese garden has a long history. It first appeared in the form of a hunting preserve for emperors and nobles in 11th
century B.C during the Zhou Dynasty. During the Win and Han Dynasties, those natural preserves were made more beautiful and became places of recreation for imperial families. Garden building saw its heyday in the Ming and Qing Dynasties. The imperial garden Yuanming Yuan (The old summer palace) was regarded as a masterpiece in this period. There are both imperial gardens and private gardens. Here we list 10 most famous gardens for you reference. If you like Chinese garden, these are must-see attractions that you should never miss.
The Old Summer Palace, Beijing
The Old Summer Palace which is also known as the Ruins is the Yuanming Yuan - the Garden of Perfection and Light. It is located in the northwest of Beijing and to the east of the present-day Summer Palace. The Garden was first constructed in the year of 1709 during the reign of the Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty. Over the next 150 years of the Qing Dynasty, this Garden was expanded to be a large-scale Chinese emperors' private pleasure garden, covering a total area of 350 hectares.
The Old Summer Palace consists of three parts – Yuanmingyuan, Wanchunyuan which is the Garden of Blossoming Spring and Changchunyuan which is the Garden of Eternal Spring. These three gardens are often referred to as a common name: Yuanmingyuan. Hundreds of scenic spots in the Garden are made up of exquisitely constructed halls, pavilions, chambers, kiosks, earth and rock hills, rivers and ponds, and exotic flowers and grasses from different parts of the country. Indeed, it contains the representative of Chinese ancient landscape gardening.
Summer Palace, Beijing
Summer Palace is located in the northwestern suburbs of Beijing city and was built in 1750, the Summer Palace is the existing largest, best-preserved imperial garden in China and a fine example of imperial gardening art. It was constructed in the Qing Dynasty, and in 1998, the site was inscribed into the UNESCO's World Heritage List.
Jichang Garden, Wuxi, Jiangsu Province
Jichang Garden locates on the east foot of Huishan Mountain, within Xihui Park area. It is one of the famous classical gardens in eastern China that covers an area of 2.5 acre. Built according to the mountain, it formed a long and narrow body. Focusing on hills and poops, Jichang Garden used “borrow scenery”, "piling up rocks”, "managing waters” such skills masterfully fully and set the garden apart from most other gardens in eastern China.
Jichang Garden, people also called it “Qin Garden” based on the surname of its owner. In Yuan Dynasty, it was a dormitory of monks. When the time reached Ming Dynasty (1506-1530), the offspring of famous poet Qin Guan bought the dormitory and rebuilt and extended it as a villa-style garden, called “Fenggu Mountain Villa”. After Qin Yao (another descendent of Qin’s) was dismissed from his duty in 1591, the garden was renovated once more and renamed as Jichang Garden as we know today.
Qin Jin, an all-important official of the Ming Dynasty, owned the garden when it was originally built during the Zhengde Reign (1506-1521). After repeated repairs and expansions, it emerged to become one of the best gardens in the former states of Wu and Yue. The Qins, having owned the garden through the generations, finally donated it to the state in 1952.
Yuyuan Garden, Shanghai
Yuyuan Garden is the only fully restored classical Chinese garden in Shanghai. It was inaugurated in the Ming dynasty and has a total area of 20,000 square meters. Although the Garden occupies less than five acres, demonstrates perfectly the sophisticated art of combining several different elements to create a world in miniature - ingeniously mingling pavilions and corridors, small hills and carefully selected and well-placed rocks, lotus ponds, bridges, winding paths, and trees and shrubs.
As a paragon of the south Chinese landscaping style of the Ming and Qing dynasties, it is a MUST for all visitors to Shanghai. The neighboring Yuyuan Bazaar, known among old-timers as "Old City God's Temple Market", is a rising tourist and shopping center where visitors loitering among a cluster of shops, restaurants and recreation facilities invariably find themselves making a tour of discovery of local folklore and Ming and Qing architecture.
Humble Administrator Garden, Suzhou
The Humble Administrator Garden was first built in the fourth year of the reign of Emperor Zhengde of Ming Dynasty in 1509. It covers an area of 52,000 square meters. Humble Administrator Garden (Zhuozheng yuan) is the best representation of Chinese classical gardens of the Ming Dynasty. Its design is duplicated in many gardens throughout China, and there is even a replica in the New York Metropolitan Museum.
The houses in the residential area are of the typical Suzhou
style and now used as exhibition rooms. The middle section is the gem of the whole garden. Of its area one-third is covered by water. Around the lake are trees and buildings.
Master of Nets Garden, Suzhou
Originally known as the Fisherman Retreat, it was laid out under the Southern Song Dynasty, and was renamed the Master of Nets Garden (Wangshi Garden) in the reign of Qianlong under the Qing Dynasty.
The outstanding feature of this small but elegant garden is that it combines living quarters with the landscape garden. The physical center is a pond surrounded by roofed walkwaves and pavilions, and decorated with trees, flowers and rockery. In short, there're scenes beyond scenes, and gardens within the garden. Buildings are perfectly well-spaced instead of being crammed. A small area of water and rockery is made to seem large.
Qiyuan Garden, Zhejiang Province
Qiyuan Garden is a classical type private garden located in Wuyuan Township of Haiyan County in Zhejiang Province. It is one of the top ten gardens in China. The old name of it is Feng’s Garden. During the Qing Dynasty, the owner of the Garden, Feng Zanzhai, settled here.
The layout of the whole garden expressed the harmonious manner between water and mountains. The garden has a large area of water, tress and dotted with a few constructions. The entrance of the garden is on the west side. In the middle of the garden is the flower hall with twisted bridges in front. The flowing water goes around the hall to the north, and by the other side of the pool in front of the hall are marvelous rockeries. The layout of the garden resembles the structure of the Humble Administrator Garden in Suzhou. The garden has many attractions with fancy names as Butterfly Drops into Greens, the setting Sun on the Lotus Pool, Enjoying Old Musical Instrument in Quiet Valley and so on. Pathways here consist of waterways, mountain holes, boats, tunnels underground and fly-over beams, which will bring you to a dreamland. Exquisite gloriettes and pavilions were distributed in the garden evenly, which can provide you to have a rest.
Ancient Lotus Pond Garden in Baoding, Hebei Province
The Ancient Lotus Pond Garden is located in Baoding, Hebei province. It is one of the oldest classical gardens still existed in China. The Garden covers an area of 24,000 square meters including the water area of 7,900 square meters.
The initial name of the Garden was Xuexiang Yuan. It was first built by Zhang Rou, the Runan Prince of the Yuan Dynasty, from 1227 to 1234. In 1284, the garden was destroyed in an earthquake, leaving only ponds with lush lotus. Later in Ming Dynasty, it was called lotus ponds instead. In the late Ming Dynasty, the pond was rebuilt and expended. It became a famous place gathering personages and high officials.
The lotus Pond is divided in to south and north ponds by the central island. The south pond is in a half-moon shape with steeps and verdant green pines and cypresses around. The north pond is in a irregular rectangular surrounding by white stone piles and dancing willows. There is a pavilion in the middle of the whole pond. Sceneries in the Garden are exquisite, elegant, pure and artful, blending the quintessence of both south and north Chinese garden styles.
Ge Garden in Yangzhou, Jiangsu Province
The Ge Garden is located on Dongguan Street in a suburb of Yangzhou City, Jiangsu Province. In Qing Dynasty, salt dealers in Yangzhou City began to build gardens. Ge Garden is the oldest and best-persevered garden among them. The garden was built in 1818 by salt dealer Huang Zhijun. It features by bamboos, rocks and the Chinese character “个” in the name of the garden.
Ge Garden is a typical private garden. When entering the garden, a moon shape garden gate jumps into our eyes. The name Ge Garden was caved on the gate. Ge in Chinese looks just like the leaves of bamboos in the garden. In the Ge Garden, there are four artificial hills representing four seasons of a year. The Spring Hill is a moon-shaped gate above the place where the Chinese character “个” engraved. The Summer Hill encircles Osmanthus Hall. The rocks of the summer hill are from Taihu Lake. The Autumn Hill is situated in the east stretching across half of the garden, with a total length of over 66 meters. Winter Hill, built with layers of white stones resembling snow, lies beneath the east peak of the Autumn Hill. Beside the four artificial hills, there are other buildings including the Touyue Veranda, Yiyu Veranda, Baoshan Building, Zhuqiu Pavilion and Fuyun Pavilion.
These are the top 10 famous gardens in China. Usually, Summer Palace, Beijing, Yuyuan Garden, Shanghai, Humble Administrator Garden, Suzhou and Master of Nets Garden, Suzhou are the most-visited Chinese gardens in China.