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Impressions of Chinese Gardens

Articles: Impressions of Chinese Gardens

The first thing I want to say is that a garden ought not to be natural! A good garden must be a piece of art. The basic principles of contrast, texture, dimension, proportion are very important to understand. But there must be an idea! If I can create a garden without that, it wouldn’t be a garden.
Roberto Burle Marx, Gardens Illustrated, August 1994

I have traveled to many countries to study their gardens and am fascinated by all the ways traditional gardens reflect the character of their time and place. The one common characteristic is the emphasis on organizing space, so that the garden becomes more than a mere collection of plants. After seeing the beautiful new Classical Chinese Garden in Portland, Oregon, my wife Irina and I decided to visit China to see some of the surviving authentic examples of the classical garden there.

The Chinese character for “garden” (top) is made from four pictographs representing (from left) a rock or mountains with a tree, a house or pavilion, an enclosure, and a pool of water

The Classical Chinese Garden

The Chinese call their classical gardens “landscape garden...


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