Chinese Private Gardens

Chinese Private Gardens is famous for its exquisite layout and special classic flavor, and garden in the south is representative of China private gardens.

China is one of the oldest countries to build gardens and is one of the three garden systems in the world. Apart from imperial garden, Chinese ancient gardens has private garden. Imperial garden has a higher architecture achievement than private gardens before Han Dynasty (202 B.C. -220 A.D.), with speed development since Tang and Song dynasties (618-1279), imperial gardens in Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) borrowed ideas from private gardens.


Chinese garden appeared originally in Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 B.C.). In the period of Southern and Northern Dynasty (420-581) was the turning period for scale of Chinese ancient gardens. Private garden was changed to small scale from grand scale of Han Dynasty. The style of garden had great change in Tang Dynasty, and Ming (1638-1644) and Qing dynasties are development periods of Chinese garden art.


Cultivating the moral character and amusement are the main functions of the garden. Because most of owners are scholars, there are many calligraphy and paintings, handicraft article and exquisite furniture displayed on indoors. Especially gardens from Ming and Qing dynasties integrate the beauty of nature, architecture, and painting and literature. Private garden embodies the aesthetics of scholars, and it almost is as the center of water with buildings around, which forms a scenic spot or several scenic spots. Private gardens in China are concentrated in Nanjing, Suzhou and Wuxi and Beijing etc.

Different Styles

There are different styles between the northern and southern gardens. However, gardens in the north are influenced by courtyard architecture style, but in the south has a well-arranged layout. Southern garden has larger pool than northern garden, and the materials of rockery in northern garden come from the south of China, while rockery of the southern garden are mostly Taihu Lake stone. The trees in northern garden commonly are Chinese pine, cypress, Chinese scholar tree and elm tree etc, but in the southern garden, trees almost are Chinese parasol tree, plum tree, yulan, peony, bamboo, elm tree and so on. In terms of architecture color, northern garden has a bright color, like grey tile and wall, red pillar, window and gate, and yellow rookery and so on, but southern garden has a gentle color such as pink wall, green tree, brown gate and window and so on. Besides, as the representative of private gardens, gardens in the south of China have more pavilion, towers, halls, and artificial forest.

Worth-visiting Ones

Suzhou Gardens

Garden is a visiting card in Suzhou. There are more than hundred gardens in Suzhou. Unlike to traditional buildings in China, layout of Suzhou gardens is unsymmetrical. It features emerging rockery, pool, bridge, kinds of flowers in a small space, and all featured sceneries in the south of China well arranged as an artwork. Besides, ornamental perforated gates and windows with different patterns are another feature in Suzhou garden. Every corner of the garden shows designer’s cultural taste and spiritual pursuit.

Lingering Garden and Humble Administrator’s Garden are two of the famous four gardens in China, which are listed on World Cultural Heritage. Lingering Garden is representative of gardens in Ming Dynasty. It keeps the most buildings in Suzhou gardens. Humble Administrator’s Garden was built in 1509 of Ming Dynasty. It has the largest area in Suzhou gardens.

CangLang Pavilion has the longest history surviving in Suzhou. With an area of 10,800 square meters, it was first built in Northern Song (960-1127). It is on the list of World Cultural Heritage.

Shizilin Garden is famous for numerous rockeries, which is typical of gardens in Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368).

Yangzhou Gardens

The most famous gardens in Yangzhou are Geyuan Garden and Heyuan Garden. Geyuan Garden was extended the construction by rich businessman Huang Zhiyun in 1818. It features bamboo and “Four Season Scenery” made of rockery. Heyuan Garden is the last great private garden built in Qing Dynasty among those in Yangzhou City. It is famous for a 1,500-meter-long covered corridor in China gardens.

Gardens in Nanjing are mostly built in Ming Dynasty, because Nanjing was the accompanying capital of Ming Dynasty. Zhanyuan Garden in Nanjing is the only best-preserved garden in Ming Dynasty.

Other private gardens are Jichang Garden in Wuxi and Shao Garden, Prince Gong's Mansion in Beijing, Yuyuan Garden in Shanghai and so on. Jichang Garden is a villa garden that is famous first built in 1527 of Ming Dynasty.

>>More on Chinese ArchitectureAncient Chinese ArchitectureChinese Courtyard HouseChinese ArchwayChinese Imperial GardensHutongTemples in ChinaClassic Gardens of SuzhouTraditional Chinese Gardens

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