Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

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 ~

Friday, August 18, 2006

A Scholar's Garden

If you click on the title of this post, you'll be directed to a website called "Chinapage." Click on the link for "Gardens" and you'll be directed to a page that explains briefly, the design of Chinese Gardens. By way of example, it has many links that discuss elements of a garden that was built on Staten Island, NY; the Scholar's Garden. There are links discussing the theory of the design, the elements involved, the interpretation, and so on.

If you have any interest at all in the way a proper garden is designed and constructed, this would be a very worthwhile link to follow.

Below is the text from the main page. Enjoy.

Traditional Chinese gardens go back almost 2,000 years to the Han Dynasty though most Scholar's Gardens date back to the more recent Ming and Qing dynasties.

A Scholar's Garden would have been built by a scholar or an administrator retiring from the emperor's court. It would have been an enclosed private garden always associated with a house which, in turn without its garden, would not have been considered whole.

This garden, designed and built by LAC, is enclosed by walls, a series of pavilions (eight in all), and covered walkways. These are all organized in an irregular manner to create in addition to the two major courtyards a series of six others of varying sizes.

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.

The parallel could be drawn to a Chinese hand scroll painting which as it unrolls, reveals a journey full of surprises and meditative pauses.

The enjoyment of the garden is both contemplative and sensual. It comes from making the most out of the experiences of everyday life, as such, architectural elements are always a part of a Scholar's Garden.

The painter's eye must be used to lay out the main architectural elements - the wall becomes the paper the rockery and plant are painted on. The structures playfully rise and fall, twist and turn and even "leave" the garden to take advantage of and even create a great variety of beautiful scenes.

To paraphrase the 15th century garden designer Ji Ching:

"The garden is created by the human hand, but should appear as if created by heaven."

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