The Garden Guide

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

Ning-po Chinese Manderin gardens

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792. The gardens of the Mandarins in the city of Ning-po, Mr. Fortune observes, from a personal inspection of them in 1845, 'are very pretty and unique ; they contain a choice selection of the ornamental trees and shrubs of China, and generally a considerable number of dwarf trees. Many of the latter are really curious, and afford another example of the patience and ingenuity of this people. Some of the specimens are only a few inches high, and yet seem hoary with age. Not only are they trained to represent old trees in miniature, but some are made to resemble the fashionable pagodas of the country, and others different kinds of animals, amongst which the deer seems to be the favourite. Junipers are generally chosen for the latter purpose, as they can be more readily bent into the desired form ; the eyes and tongue are added afterwards, and the representation altogether is really good.' (Fortune's Wanderings in China, p. 94.) 'Amongst the Mandarins' gardens in the city of Ning-po, there is one in particular which is generally visited by all strangers, and is much admired. It is situated near the lake in the centre of the city. The old man to whom it belongs has long retired from trade with an independent fortune, and he now enjoys his declining years in the peaceful pursuits of gardening, and is passionately fond of flowers. Both his house and garden are unique in their way, but they are most difficult to describe, and must be seen to be appreciated. In this part of the country the building of artificial rockwork is so well understood, that the resemblance to nature is perfect, and it forms a principal feature in every garden. This old gentleman has the different parts of his house joined together by rude-looking caverns, and what at first sight appears to be a subterraneous passage, leading from room to room, through which the visitor passes to the garden, which lies behind the house. The small courts, of which a glimpse is caught in passing through, are fitted up with this rockwork ; dwarf trees are planted here and there in various places, and creepers hang down naturally and gracefully until their ends touch the little ponds of water which are always placed in front of the rockwork. These small places being passed, we are again led through passages like those already noticed, when the garden, with its dwarf trees, vases, rockwork, ornamental windows, and beautiful flowering shrubs, is suddenly opened to the view. It must be understood, however, that all which I have now described is very limited in extent; but the most is made of it by windings and glimpses through rockwork and arches in the walls, as well as by hiding the boundary with a mass of shrubs and trees,' (Ibid., p. 99.) [Editor's Note: Ning-po city in the coastal plain of northeastern Chekiang sheng province]