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Humble Administrator's Garden

Humble Administrator's Garden is situated on Northeast Street between Loumen and Qimen gates, the northeastern part of Suzhou city. Covering 51,950 squere miles,it is the largest private garden in Suzhou and one of the four most famous classic gardens in China. The garden is a typical example of the art of horticulture south of Yangtze River as well as a treasure house containing arts of architecture, calligraphy, carving, painting, and bonsai. It was listed as cultural relics of national importance in 1961.

Humble Administrator's Garden was built in the Jia Jing period of the Ming Dynasty by Wang Xianchen, Censor of the Throne. The name of the garden comes from the essay "To cultivate my garden and sell my vegetable crop is the policy of humble man." in Idler's Prose by Pan Yue of the Jin dynasty.

Humble Administrator's Garden represents the historical characteristics and achievements of south-east China's private gardens. The garden's scenery is focused on a central pond with various buildings of pavilions, terraces, chambers, and towers located by the water or on hillocks in a natural, unsophisticated, and appropriate composition. It is divided into three parts: the eastern, middle and western parts.


The middle garden is the most distinguished part of the Humble Administrator's Garden.
It centers around Yuanxiang Tang pavilion. Two artificial islands linked to each other in the lotus pond north of the pavilion are densely overgrown with bamboo plants and trees, creating the impression that the entire garden is floating on water. Seen westward, a pagoda would be seen sitting in western garden, which actually is situated 1km away from the garden. The picturesque scene of the pagoda mirrored in water is an example of the garden technique called "borrowed view from afar".

The East Garden lies right inside the main entrance. Ponds were dug, rockeries built and trees planted against a setting of low mounds and lawns. Shu Xiang Guan (Fragrant Sorghum Hall), Lan Xue Tang (Orchid Snow Hall) and other buildings were added to the original layout.

The west garden are properly arranged by the lake, in which the Hall of the Thirty-Six Mandarin Ducks and the Hall of Eighteen Camellias are most important. It was established during the third year of the Guangxu period (1877 A.D.) and rebuilt by Zhang Luqian, who named it "Rebuilt Garden". To the end of west garden lies a bonsai garden, where more than 700 potted miniature landscapes arc are on display, representing the Suzhou style bonsai, one of the four leading bonsai styles in china.

The Humble administrator's Garden boasts altogether 48 different buildings, 101 parallel couplets and door plateaux, 40 stelae, 21 precious old trees.

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