The Chinese garden took 3,000 years to form a landscape design style. It can be huge imperial gardens and small gardens, for scientists, officials, merchants. They are created for thought and solitude. Each resembles an ideal miniature natural landscape and expresses the unity of man and nature.

A typical Chinese garden is enclosed by a wall, including a pond, groups of stones, trees, flowers, halls, pavilions that connect winding paths or zigzag galleries. Each part of the garden is a carefully selected scene. The Imperial Garden is a large-scale picture of the world, and the private garden is detailed in detail and includes many miniature compositions. Both are united by a philosophy of unity. 

The History of the Chinese Garden

The first records tell of Chinese gardens in the Yellow River Valley during the Shang Dynasty (1600 – 1046 BC). These gardens were large enclosed parks where rulers and courtiers hunted game or cultivated fruits and vegetables. The inscriptions of that period speak of three types of garden: Yo, Pu and Yuan. The first garden was a royal garden and there were many animals and birds. In the second garden, plants were grown. The last garden, Yuan, eventually became the basis for the creation of the Chinese garden. It was a closed square, where there were walls, a pond and plants. 

The royal Chinese gardens are described in the poetry of the time. For example, the garden-park Terrace, Pond and Spirit Park of King Wengwang, created to the west of its capital, the city of Yin, is described as where it walks and can watch freely how deer and their deer graze, how beautiful the white cranes and ponds are full fishes. In the Records of the Great Historian, Shiji describes yet another Shaki royal garden (Sand Dunes), created by Shang, who ruled from 1075 to 1046 BC. According to the “Records …”, in the center there was a large observation deck, and a pool was built in the palace, on which several small boats could freely swim at a time. An island was poured in its center, and the pool itself was filled with wine. In the Chinese chronicles many more magnificent gardens are described, where there were magnificent palaces, lakes, boats in the form of dragons.

For many centuries, one legend about the eight immortals who lived on the top of Penglai Mountain had a great influence on the style of Chinese gardens. They lived forever, in prosperity in the palaces of silver and gold. Trees grew around with jewels. There was no winter, no pain, and wine and rice were never exhausted. 

One of the great rulers of early China – Ying Zheng, inspired by the legend of a paradise on a mountain, sent soldiers to find this paradise and get an elixir of immortality. But unsuccessfully. However, not far from his capital, Sanyana, he created a garden with a large lake, Lanchi-Gong. A copy of Mount Penglai was erected in the center of it. In 206 BC he died, and his capital and garden were destroyed. In the chronicles of Chinese historians and works of art, the Lake of the Highest Essence, the Garden of General Liang Ji and other large park gardens are mentioned. However, the legend continues to inspire Chinese gardeners to create small copies of the island of the Immortals.

With the beginning of our era, Buddhism came to China and at each temple they set up their gardens and kindergartens. Gardens began to inspire poets to create collections of poems. Such examples were the Garden of the Golden Valley, the Orchid Pavilion. The emperors began to organize gardens and stage performances there.

During the heyday of China, the garden began to flourish. In many, even the smallest kindergartens, they tried to recreate the same paradise picture from the legend of the Immortals and always gave them poetic names. Breeding, domestication of wild plants, cuttings, grafting and propagation of plants also began to develop. Treatises and catalogs of plants were created. 

During the Tang Dynasty, China began to flourish economically. This contributed to the prosperity of the gardens. Manuscript sources describe the huge garden built by the Great Minister of the Empire, Tang Li Li Deyu. It had more than a hundred different pavilions and structures, a large collection of stones and exotic plants. Some emperors created gardens, others destroyed them, and some scholars took a fee (purely symbolic) for visiting their gardens. 

Almost all of the ancient and ancient gardens of China remained only in the annals, and only a few survived to our time. Some have greatly changed, while others have retained an almost historical appearance. For example, the Garden of the Blue Wave Pavilion in Suzhou. It was built in 1044 A.D. the poet Su Shunqing or the Network Master’s Garden, called the Fishery Shelter. Suzhou has many examples of long-standing garden design. 

Each dynasty of emperors contributed to the garden art of China. The protracted Garden, Yuyuan Garden, Garden of Perfection, Jichang Garden, Summer Palace Garden, Keyiyuan Garden can demonstrate their beauty in vain. They were built not only by rulers, but also by scientists, philosophers, poets, statesmen. They are luxurious, they inspire and will certainly make you think about the intangible. 

The design of the Chinese garden

The Chinese garden unfolds gradually. It cannot be seen right away. It consists of a cascade of landscapes. It is intended to hide the vulgar and simple, and to show perfection. It does not have clear, even lines, but asymmetry and smoothness. It is always surrounded by a wall and includes a pond, an observation pavilion, and the plants are neatly matched to each other.

Garden Architecture

There are many architectural structures in the Chinese garden: halls, pavilions, temples, galleries, bridges, arbors and towers. 

  • Ting – The ceremonial hall for celebrations or ceremonies with a courtyard and is located near the entrance gate;Ting – The
  • Yesmain pavilion welcomes guests and is surrounded by a huaveranda
  • ting- The flower pavilion is located next to the house and plants are grown in it, and there is a rock garden
  • Xi’an Pavilion with four doors and moving walls to open the panorama of the garden. 
  • A lotus pavilion is being built next to the pond.
  • Yuan Yang Ting Pavilion – the tangerine duck pavilion is divided into two parts: northern and southern.

In addition to these rather large structures, you can see the same building plan in the Chinese garden, only a smaller one. They are designed to provide shelter from the sun and rain, to inspect the garden and to relax. They are placed where you can watch something, listen to something, where there is a beautiful view of the landscape. They are separate, and are part of another structure. Each of these buildings necessarily has its own name, which expresses the meaning of its purpose: Pavilion of Peak worship, Pavilion of the Moon and Wind, Pavilion of listening to rain, etc. Observation

towers (lu or ge) are also being built in the Chinese garden. In some gardens, stone pavilions were built in the form of a boat by the pond. They consist of a gazebo, a hall in the center and a two-story building that looks directly at the pond. There are also small enclosed courtyards designed to relax, meditate, draw, and drink tea. 

An important element of the Chinese garden is the galleries (lang). These narrow serpentine (rarely straight) narrow and covered corridors connect the buildings, hide visitors from rain and heat, and divide the garden into parts. They made windows, square, round, or sometimes of irregular geometric shape, for a glimpse of the landscape.   

Windows and doors in the Chinese garden – an indispensable element – are round, oval, hexagonal, octagonal, in the form of a vase or fruit. They are always very nicely decorated. Bridges and bridges are another characteristic feature of the garden. Their shapes are diverse: straight, zigzag, arched. The purpose of the bridges is direct (for movement) or decorative (for exploring the garden, as an element of the picture). They are built of stone or wood. 

Often in the gardens of China, small detached buildings for solitude and meditation, as well as buildings for libraries or studios (shufan) were created.  

Rock Garden and mountains

In every Chinese garden there is always at least a small Rock Garden. The mountain for the Chinese is a symbol of virtue, stability and endurance. This is evidenced by Confucianism and the Book of Changes, as well as the legend of the Immortals. In ancient times they were created in large, cascades, and observation pavilions were built at the top. During the Qing Dynasty, creating epoch-making mountains and rock gardens became unfashionable. And now, this is one large stone symbolizing the main mountain and a row of smaller stones to display the mountain range in the Stone Garden. Some small gardens inside the courtyards are made up of white sand and stones placed around the perimeter and inside. In the moonlight, they look like real lakes. This is the founder of the Japanese Zen garden – the “dry garden”.  


The central link in the Chinese garden is a pond or lake. Near it are the main buildings and pavilions. A lotus always grows in the pond and fish swim, usually gold ones. According to the Book of Changes, water is lightness and communication, it carries food for life on its way. Water in the garden is always next to the mountain and represents dreams and infinity of spaces. The shape at the pond is blurry and hides from the visitor on the other side of its shore. This creates the illusion of the infinity of the lake. There could be several such reservoirs in the large imperial garden. In a small garden, it is the only one and is surrounded by a rock garden, structures and plants. On average, a garden can have a lake and several streams with bridges or a long lake with a canal and a bridge over it, visually dividing it into two parts. 

Plants also grow around, a stone garden stands and buildings are built. 


Plants in a Chinese garden are the fourth important element of this garden style. They have the same important purpose as structures, stone and water. It always grew pine, bamboo, Chinese plum. In the local climate, this three remains green even in winter. Pine – a symbol of longevity and perseverance, constancy in friendship. Bamboo is a symbol of a wise, modest, always learning and flexible person who does not break even in the most severe storm. Plum – rebirth after winter and the arrival of spring. It is valued for pink and white flowers, as well as for its sweet aroma. 

In the gardens of China, peaches (a symbol of longevity and immortality), pears (a symbol of justice and wisdom, a long friendship or romance), apricots (a symbol of the path of a military commander or government official), pomegranates (a symbol of fertility), willows (friendship and joy) grow. Flowers also personified desires. Peony is a symbol of wealth, orchid is a symbol of nobility and impossible love, and the lotus has become a symbol of the search for knowledge. These three flowers are required, as are chrysanthemums. 

In the garden, pruning was almost never used. Longtime Chinese landscape designers tried to preserve their plants in their natural form. Fancy dwarf trees with a twisted trunk and branches to create miniature landscapes were especially valued.

Borrowing landscape (Jiejing)

An important aspect in the design of the Chinese garden is the borrowing of the landscape surrounding the garden. The purpose of this technique is to create a hand-made garden as part of this landscape and seem endless. 

For a Chinese gardener, it is important how his garden looks during the seasons or time of day. As in our time, and in antiquity, designers took into account how certain parts of the garden will look best in winter, which in spring, summer and autumn, which are better to see during the day, and which at night. 

Hide and surprise.

Another technique used and used is a secret one, which becomes unexpectedly obvious. Remember, at first it was written that the Chinese garden consists of several separate scenes per se? They are combined with the help of galleries, separated by the walls of structures, thickets of “moon gates”, screens from plants, winding paths. A guest in such a garden opens something new only when he gets to the control point, the last moment. 

Garden Philosophy 

The Chinese Garden is designed, as it once was, for use and for admiring. All kinds of celebrations are held in it, they teach writing, reading, and music. In the garden they drink tea and meditate. Taoism has made the garden a place to achieve enlightenment by contemplating the unity of creation, where harmony and order reign. In it, two opposites, yin and yang, complement each other, the hidden becomes obvious, and the landscape will never end. 

Each Chinese garden is a search for paradise, a lost world, a utopian universe and immortality. In these gardens it is clearly seen how human creativity can become part of nature. They try, as accurately as possible, to imitate nature and manifest it in all its beauty. . 

The influence of the garden on the world. 

The Chinese garden has influenced all styles of gardens during its existence. A lot of it went into the Japanese garden. This is an exchange of knowledge, lakes and pavilions like the Chinese, intimate gardens for meditation and relaxation, a rock garden, a tea ceremony in the garden, the reconstruction of the immortal islands.

Together with travelers, a natural line came to European gardens, the lack of a clear geometry, asymmetry, Chinese-style gazebos with boat roofs, camouflage, naturalism, bridges. He intervened in the strict geometry of the French garden, the English formal garden, and the royal Russian garden. By the end of the nineteenth century, there was no country in Europe without the motives of the Chinese garden.

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