The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 5: Gardens in Asia, America, Africa, Australia

Chinese architecture and gardens

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788. The houses of the Chinese are, for the most part, only one story high, and those of the lower orders have a mean and miserable appearance, while those of the rich have numbers of fine, ornamented, and airy apartments, with spaces between them to admit the light as well as the air. These spaces are always in front and at back, the light being seldom given at the sides ; and the houses are surrounded by extensive and beautiful gardens, adorned with artificial lakes, rocks, cascades, buildings of various descriptions, walks, bridges, &c. In the ornamenting and beautifying of gardens the Chinese excel all other nations. By means of a variety of winding walks, they make a small place appear twice as large as it really is. Innumerable flower-pots, containing a great variety of beautiful asters, of which they are very fond, are sometimes arranged in a labyrinth, from which you cannot get out again without a guide. They seem to have a very extensive assortment of asters: one species is quite white, as large as a rose, with long pending leaves, which the Chinese use, in the season, for salad, justly esteeming them a very great delicacy. When the asters are all in full bloom, the pots arranged handsomely near a piece of water, and the walks and alleys well lighted, at night, with variously coloured lamps, a Chinese garden has the appearance of one of those enchanted places we read of in the Arabian tales. (Dobell's Travels, &c., vol. ii. p. 314.)