If you don’t know where to go on a vacation I always recommend UNESCO World Heritage sites. These sites are internationally protected zones that represent the ingenuity and creativity of human creation or the outstanding biological miracles of nature. The Lingering garden in Suzhou is no exception.
The Lingering garden was the private home and garden for Xu Taishi, a rich government official in the 16th century. An elaborate maze of black and white rooms with sudden gardens popping up everywhere, the Lingering garden is almost 6 acres. There used to be hundreds of gardens like this in the Suzhou province (about 2 hours from Shanghai), but most were destroyed during the Japanese invasion and the Cultural revolution. My tour guide warned us to stay close because it’s very easy to get lost, but I got distracted by the bonsai trees and fell behind.
I’ve never understood the mystique behind bonsai trees until Suzhou. They really allow you to take in all the amazing, beautiful details of a tree that you would normally overlook because of their scale. Any tree can become a bonsai tree; it’s not a breed of tree but a process of binding. The process requires keeping a sapling in a small pot, wrapping wires around the branches so they don’t grow too tall, and trimming the leaves.
Bonsai is actually a Japanese artform, but it comes from the Chinese art called Penjing. Since most people aren’t familiar with penjing, I’ll keep using the term bonsai.
There were hundred of these trees! I’m only sharing just a few. I loved the ones that mimic famous landscapes in China:
When I finally looked up from my camera I noticed that the group was gone. Mike went for some coffee so there was no chance of finding him either. While I tried to find my ride home I stumbled on some beautiful scenes.
Eventually I found my group and all was well. I’m glad I got some quiet moments in the garden. It’s truly a special place. One of the reasons why it is so peaceful is that they have signs everywhere begging tourists to be polite. There were some questionable English translations but they got their message across.
I’ll leave you with this image of their beautiful trash cans:
- Red Bonsai (coopersview.com)
- Back in Time with Seven Directions Custom Tours to Visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites of the Southwest (prweb.com)
- UNESCO World Heritage Site #188 – City of Bath (everything-everywhere.com)