Garden of Cultivation

Started to be built during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), the Garden of Cultivation (Yipu Garden) is a small scale garden with artistic characteristics of the Ming Dynasty. The entire garden's layout is plain and open, with a natural and simple style; not overly elaborate and affected. Its artistic value is much higher than the Later Qing gardens in Suzhou. The layout of mountains and waters, pavilions, terraces and buildings, as well as the detailed arrangement of a single rock and a single tree express is simple, unsophisticated and elegant attributes. 

Building at Garden of Cultivation Suzhou

The pond in the middle of the garden occupies one fourth of the total area. It features "mountain scenery" to the south of the pond and buildings to the north. The pond has a roughly rectangular shape with coves at the southeast and southwest corners, which are spanned by low, flat and small bridges. On the east and west banks of the pond are roofed and open-sided galleries, pavilions, rocks and trees, serving transitionally as a foil to the northern and southern scenes. At the southeast corner of the pond is the Fry Pavilion that dates from the Ming Dynasty. A moon gate in the wall that borders the pond and the mountains leads to a small garden court on the southwest. The 6-pillar-wide Water Pavilion of Longevity lies to the north of the pond, overlooking the broad expanse of water, and is the biggest water pavilion at Suzhou. To the north of the water pavilion is the 6-pillar-wide Hall of Erudition and Elegance in the style of the Ming Dynasty. The Garden of Cultivation, simple, rustic and natural, still keeps much of the layout, design principles and other characteristics of the Ming garden. The garden has 13 buildings, 17 tablets and parallel couplets, 8 steles and stone carvings, and many valuable old trees.

Inside a Hall of Garden of Cultivation Suzhou


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