The autumn leaves are falling like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are always two cups at my table.

T’ang Dynasty poem

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~


Monday, June 26, 2006

Chinese Garden


What follows is an interesting article about a Chinese Garden. If you click on the title of this post, you'll be directed to the full article, which contains more pictures.

Dreamer strives to cultivate ties between nations For quarter-century, he has tried to build S.F. Chinese garden
- Olivia Wu, Chronicle Staff Writer
Sunday, June 25, 2006

(06-25) 04:00 PDT Luzhi, China -- Gazing through wistful willows whose branches graze the lake that laps his garden, an American dreams of building the ultimate garden some 6,000 miles away, across the Pacific Ocean.

The dreamer is William Wu, the garden is one he created from the dirt lot of his house outside Shanghai, and his mission is to install a public Chinese garden in his American home city of San Francisco.

"I want to bring out the most beautiful parts of traditional culture and make it meaningful for the future and to other countries," Wu said. "Building a garden is a part of it."

For Wu (no relation to this reporter), the Chinese garden has been a dream long deferred. First proposed as part of a San Francisco-Shanghai Sister City Committee agreement a quarter-century ago, the project drifted for want of a space. But now, committee Chairman James Fang expects a decision to be made within a month that would set aside the space -- possibly in Golden Gate Park -- so that fundraising to build and maintain the garden can begin.

This "gift to the city," as Fang calls it, might not have gotten even to this stage without Wu, whose passion for cultural exchange -- and gardens -- stems in part from a decades-long commitment to building bridges between the two nations.

"He's our prime contact with the Chinese intelligentsia in the arts sense," said Tom Klitgaard, a San Francisco attorney and founding member of the Sister City Committee.

Based in Luzhi, a village about 60 miles outside of Shanghai that is fast becoming a suburb of the uber-metropolis, Wu's house and garden speak of traditional China.

The garden is filled with six varieties of bamboo as well as lace-bark elm, green-trunked parasol trees, fragrant osmanthus and jasmine, rare maples and, of course, waving willows. The foliage is either native to China or described in classical Chinese literature.

"The idea behind a Chinese garden is layering and veiling," he said. It is a prism of experiences.

It instills, by placement of rocks, by the shape of the walls and rooflines, tree plantings and details of the design, a heightened sense of nature and a dynamic of balance.

"I want to be sure that the meaning of the garden comes through,'' Wu said, as a place that honors nature and as a place that inspires humanism and literary creativity. That way when Westerners enter the garden, they understand the complete literary, architectural, artistic and historical context of its composition.

Given such a context, he said, "The Chinese learn something as well. It's a lesson for both sides, if we do it correctly."

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