The Landscape Guide

Country gardens in China

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If one selects the site for one’s garden out in the country one should choose a plateau or a river bank where the soil is deep and the trees tall. Water is taken from a source through a channel, over which one throws a bridge.
The spot should not be too far removed from the town; one will have most pleasure from it if one can come and go as one pleases. In this connection, attention should be paid to the nature of the ground and the modeling of the country; it is in relation to this that one determines the size and extent of the garden. The surrounding wall is made by stamping earth between planks. The design may follow the pattern of the Hsi family’s garden.
If one desires to till the fields, one digs long irrigation canals, if beautiful views are what one wants, one makes good use of the groups of trees. If one finds that water collects around the roots of the trees, one should prop ‘lift’ the latter with stones. The creepers should be led along the curving bridge spanning the stream. The cold gusts of wind from the crevices touch the peach trees growing among the willows along the winding brook. The moon is concealed, but gleams through the plum trees and bamboo that have been planted around the house; here is created a fascinating atmosphere that arouses
deep feelings.
Two or three buildings at the end of a winding path are intended for the retention of the spring; one or two spots offer protection against the summer heat. In the nearby copse the doves are cooing, and the horse neighs in the wind down on the river bank.
When the flowers wither one calls for a servant to sweep them away. The guests are invited to recline in the deep cool bamboo grove.
One may visit such a garden without enquiring after the owner, but one should not leave any trace of the visit or write one’s name. One may appreciate the rustling of the wind and the splendor of the moon without insulting the mountains and the trees by daubing. A cultivated person retains his equanimity even among common people; it is only vulgar individuals who dirty the walls.