Many people are familiar with Japanese gardening, and you may think that Chinese gardening would be very similar; however, this is untrue. While the Japanese garden is very ordered and serene, the traditional Chinese garden is quite chaotic. In this article we will discuss some of the traits of a typical and traditional Chinese garden. Read on to learn more.
Traditional Chinese gardens are surprisingly crowded. You will find many ornamental and practical buildings, seemingly jumbled rock piles and a riot of plantings, ornaments and more. This is because items in the Chinese garden represent a number of different concepts.
Illustrated by the planning of the plantings and ornamentation found in a Chinese garden are such diverse purposes and concepts as the place of humanity in the universe, peaceful nooks and crannies for meditation, bright open areas for family gatherings and parties, discussion areas for artists and poets, and so on. All this and more may be found in one small garden.
There are also different types and styles of Chinese gardens. For centuries, the Chinese have enjoyed landscape parks that feature beautiful designs in scenery. The traditional Chinese landscape park must include a body of water and a hill from which to survey it. People enjoy strolling around the water in landscape parks and communing with nature.
Up until the time of Chairman Mao, many Chinese private homes featured central courtyards that acted as enclosed outdoor areas. These sheltered areas provided the families who lived in private homes on each side of the courtyard with a common area to socialize, grow food and flowers and cook outdoors in good weather. Traditional courtyards are oriented north to south and make great use of the concept of feng shui for the well being and prosperity of those who use the courtyard garden.
Gardens in China also provide sacred space for many people. This is especially true of scholarly individuals who often maintain small, private gardens for the purpose of spiritual contemplation and pursuit. These types of gardens may be designed in styles to honor and celebrate Buddhism, Taoism or Confucianism. The keeper of a spiritual garden gains peace, enlightenment and enrichment through care of the garden and time spent in contemplation in the garden.
Another type of specialty Chinese garden that is not seen today is the private garden for women who have bound feet. These beautiful, quiet, private retreats featured cool garden ponds where women with bound feet could rest and relax or simply soak their painful feet late in the evening.
Even today, people in the cities of China carefully plan small garden getaways. An ideal Chinese city garden should be placed in a far corner of the yard with a circuitous path leading up to it. The ideal garden contains both a body of water, such as a small pond or fountain and a small rise of land to represent a hill. While the garden will need careful planning and tending, it is ideal for it to appear to be wild and natural to help garden visitors release their hearts and minds from the cares of the modern world.