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Suitable Sites for Chinese gardens

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Whatever site the garden may have, it naturally includes eminences and hollows. When one enters through the gate one is confronted with a natural view in accordance with the ground. It may be limited by mountains and trees, or else by a river or a lake. If one is looking for a beautiful spot in the vicinity of the city one should avoid the busy streets, but if one is looking for a suitable spot in the country one should pay particular attention to the various heights and groupings of the trees. In a country village one has a view over open fields, but in the town one has comfort.
The preparation of the ground for a new garden is not difficult; here one plants only willows and bamboo; but an old garden that is to be transformed offers greater possibilities, for here one finds a number of older trees and flowers. The garden may be given the form of a square or a circle; it may be made irregular and surprising; it may be surrounded with a curving wall like a huan 10 or be dispersed like a great cloud. Where the ground rises one may build terraces and pavilions; in the depressions one may excavate ponds and lakes. The whole should be planned in relation to the water level. Before beginning to dig one should investigate the sources and note how the water flows. Where it flows in an open channel one builds the pavilion on posts.
From a narrow enclosed footpath one sees only a streak of the sky, but it may be crossed with a ‘floating gallery.’ If one can take advantage of a neighbour’s view one should not cut off the communication, for such a ‘borrowed prospect’ is very acceptable. When the flowers in one’s neighbour’s garden are opening, one may bid them welcome as the ambassadors of continual spring enjoy a spring without end.
If one throws a bridge over the water one may erect the study pavilion on the opposite bank. If one piles up stones to form a surrounding wall, it may seem as if one lived among mountains. If the site is covered with many old trees, one must erect the house at a certain distance from them, and only cut off those branches that stretch over the roof. According to the proverb, it is easy to embellish the pillars and insert the beams, but hard to get a huai tree to grow. If the spot is selected with due care, then the garden may be executed in the proper style.

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