Chinese Gardens: Shanghai and Suzhou
JRM2 02 - 22 - 2010

In Shanghai the group visited the Yu Garden (Below), a five acre complex. To get to the gardens we literally pushed our way through old China town. It is packed shoulder to shoulder with Chinese because of the area and because of Chinese New Year. Noise, people, and the smell of disgusting food surrounds everyone till we get to the entrance of the garden. Once we pass through the walls into the garden the crowding and noise go away immediately. The garden is a place to escape the crowded city to relax. The Yu Garden has multiple buildings with little to no topography changes. There are some small ponds to reflect the buildings, but there are not many places to sit or linger. The complex creates space with buildings and white walls with circle openings. The garden also has a large open space with a theater to entertain those in the gardens. The buildings dominate over the cloud like rocks. This give the Yu Garden offer a limited number of paths which create a more urban feel than the other gardens. The next day we drove two hours through sprawled Shanghai to Suzhou, a smaller city. In Suzhou, we walked through a vacant traditional neighborhood ally with gates to people's homes. After going through a short maze we arrive in a small courtyard which is the front of the entrance to the Master-of-Nets Garden (Right). Like the other gardens we first go through a building or two before we reach the actual garden. This complex is a total of three acres. Although the garden is small than the Yu Garden, because of its large central space with a pond it seems bigger and more impressive. There a about the same ratio of buildings to gardens in the Master-of-Nets Garden but shrubs, trees, rocks, and paths seem to dominate the spaces more than the buildings. The central courtyard is the majority of the garden, but because there are many views and places to sit, it becomes a place to rest and relax in a single space unlike the Yu Gardens.

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