The Garden Guide

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

History of Chinese garden design

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i. Chinese Gardening as an Art of Design and Taste 784. One of the earliest accounts of Chinese gardens was given by Pere Le Comte, who, as well as Du Halde, had resided in the country as a missionary. 'The Chinese,' observes Le Comte (Lettre vi.), 'appear still more to neglect their gardens than their houses. They would consider it as a want of sense to occupy their grounds only in parterres, in cultivating flowers, and in forming alleys and thickets. The Chinese, who value order so little in their gardens, still consider them as sources of pleasure, and bestow some expense in their formation. They form grottoes, raise little hills, procure pieces of rocks, which they join together with the intention of imitating nature, if they can, besides these things, find enough of water to water their cabbages and legumes, they consider, that as to that material they have nothing more to desire, and content themselves with a well or a pond.' Olof Toreen, a Swede, who visited China early in the eighteenth century, and has published an account of his travels, states, 'that in the Chinese gardens are neither seen trees artificially cultivated, nor alleys, nor figured parterres of flowers; but a general confusion of the productions of verdant nature.' (Voyage of Osbeck to the East Indies and China, &c.)