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The development history of private gardens

Chinese private gardens may have originated in the same era as the imperial gardens, but from known historical documents, people know that there was a private garden of King Liang Xiao in the Han Dynasty and a private garden of the wealthy Yuan Guanghan. These private gardens are all built imitating imperial gardens, but they are small in scale and simple in content.

During the Wei, Jin, Southern and Northern Dynasties, Chinese society fell into great turmoil, social productivity was severely reduced, and the population plummeted. The people were disappointed and uneasy about the future, so they sought spiritual relief, and Taoism and Buddhism were deeply rooted in the hearts of the people.

At this time, scholar-official intellectuals turned to escape from reality and secluded the mountains and forests. This fashion must be reflected in the private gardens of the time. Representative works include the Jingu Garden in the Western Jin Dynasty bureaucrat Shichong in Luoyang, northern China, and the Eastern Jin landscape in Kuaiji, southern China. The mountain residence of the poet Xie Lingyun. Both are landscape gardens slightly managed on the basis of natural landscape.

During the Tang and Song Dynasties, the society was prosperous and stable, and traditional culture had been greatly developed, especially the art of poetry, calligraphy and painting reached its peak. The Wen Man-made Garden integrates poetic and pictorial meaning into their own little world. The masterpieces of this period include Wang Wei’s Wang Chuan Bieye, the poet, and Sima Guang’s Duyuan, the writer. During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the style of private gardening flourished. Although private gardens were mostly urban homes at this time, the area was not large, but in this small world, it created an infinite realm. As Wen Zhenheng in the Ming Dynasty summed up, “One peak will bring you a thousand miles away, and a spoonful will bring you thousands of miles away.”

At this time, many excellent private gardens appeared. The common feature is that they are properly sited, with rockery ponds as the framework, pavilions, pavilions, trees, flowers and plants, simple and natural, supporting things to express their aspirations, small and large, full of poetry and painting. This pot of heaven and earth is not only the living place of the garden owner, but also the dream of the garden owner. Famous southern private gardens in this period include Jichang Garden in Wuxi, Ge Garden in Yangzhou, Humble Administrator’s Garden in Suzhou, Lingering Garden, Master of the Nets Garden, and Lion Forest in Huanxiu Villa.

Private gardens in the north include Cuijin Garden, Shao Garden, and Half-Mu Garden. From the perspective of the residential garden layout of the Ming and Qing dynasties left today, the private gardens in the north are more influenced by the courtyard structure and appear more restrained; the private gardens in the south are more natural and generous in spatial layout. In terms of the size of the pool, private gardens in the north usually have a small water surface, while private gardens in the south have a large water surface due to the abundant water resources of the base.

From the perspective of rockery materials, most of the northern private gardens use stones from the north. The southern private gardens use Taihu stone; in terms of the appearance of the garden architecture, the northern garden buildings appear stable and large, with flat corners; while the southern garden buildings are ethereal and elegant, with large corners. From the point of view of plant materials, private gardens in the north, Chinese pine, cypress, white bark pine, Chinese locust, walnut, persimmon, elm, and crabapple are more common, while private gardens in the south often use plum blossoms, magnolia, peony, bamboo, elm, plantain, etc. Chinese phoenix tree is the main tree species.

In terms of color composition, the northern gardens are characterized by gray tiles, gray walls, red pillars, red doors and windows, green trees, yellowstone, and bluestone. The colors are gorgeous and beating. Southern gardens are characterized by terracotta tiles, whitewashed walls, pillars, brown doors and windows, gray-white stones, and green trees, with elegant and soft colors.

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