Chinese Gardens are a special aspect of traditional Chinese culture and art. It is not an expanse of green with accompanying buildings, but more of an area harmoniously mixing man-made landscape with natural scenery, architecture, painting, calligraphy and horticulture. The entire compound is enclosed by walls, which mark the property off as a special place for the owner’s private enjoyment.
The earliest recorded Chinese garden appeared during the Shang Dynasty (1600BC – 1046BC). Back then they were very simple, only consisted of a raised platform surrounded by vegetation. After its evolution in many dynasties, Chinese garden matured as a comprehensive school of its own during the Qing Dynasty (1636 - 1911).
The building and decoration of the garden are designed and arranged deliberately based on their respective symbols and meanings. Auspicious items can be found anywhere. Pine, for example, was often used to represent longevity, tenacity and dignity.
The Chinese garden is generally divided into two categories, the imperial garden and the private garden. In terms of geographical location, there are northern garden (imperial garden) and southern garden (private garden).
Imperial gardens are mostly found in north China, with those in Beijing as representatives, featuring grandness and magnificence. Private gardens are mostly found in south China, especially in cities in south of the Yangtze River, such as Suzhou, Wuxi, Nanjing and Hangzhou. Private gardens were designed and created as a place of retreat for the ancient scholars to escape the chaos of the city and have private relaxation.