Liu Yuan (Lingering Garden)

Suzhou, China

Oriental landscaping is much different from gardening across the world because it aims to incorporate Feng Shui elements and be as close to natural scenery as possible. Lingering Garden is a classic example of this idea and is a popular representation of the much-acclaimed southern Chinese style of landscaping. It is also part of UNESCO’s approved collection of World Heritage Sites in the category of classical gardens of Suzhou, standing alongside Suzhou’s Humble Administrators Garden and Lion Grove Garden.

The place is connected by subway line 2, close to Shilu station. A lot of public buses go to Liuyuan station which is very close to Lingering Gardens. The ticket costs RMB55 in the months from April-October, barring June and RMB45 from November-March plus June. Visiting in Spring provides vistas of lush greens and flora in its full glory. Opening hours are from 07:30 to 17:00. Recommended visiting time is about an hour and if Tiger Hill is on your itinerary, then you can club these two together as a half day activity because you can conveniently get to Tiger Hill via Tourist Bus Line 1. Beware that the pathways are not comfortable for wheelchair users because of the uneven steps.

Lingering Garden is named after one of its owners, Liu Shu, who possessed it during the Qing Dynasty and who was responsible for opening it up as a renowned resort. Successive owners kept it private and only built on or restored his work until finally the garden became government property and was opened to the public, once more, in 1954. The garden has four distinct sections for visitors to explore.
What delights people the most is the Corridor that goes over the lake, under age-old trees and winds around the whole area of the Lingering Gardens. Walking along the corridor you can see the gorgeous inscriptions on its columns by Liu Shu, who was a calligraphy enthusiast himself, and other famous calligraphers. At certain points, windows with stylish carvings have been installed that ‘frame’ the scenery presented beyond.

The Central Section is the bona fide part from when the garden was conceived some centuries ago. It has the pond and most important structures are in this area, which is further split between the eastern and western sections. Within the Eastern Section, there are some fascinating constructions, the most revered one being the Celestial Hall of Five Peaks which is the biggest hall in the whole compound and an authentic representation from the original period of the garden. Other buildings in the area are the Return to Read Study and Cloud-Capped Peak. The Green Shade Pavilion and Small Fairy Isle are two examples of buildings further to the center and when you reach the Western side, you realize there are few buildings and an abundance of old towering trees, specially the maple trees which form a canopy providing relief from the heat.

The northern part consists of a potted garden treasure containing bonsai’s in a multitude of shapes and plant varieties.

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