I have a passion for plants, anyone who knows me well or even a little will know this about me. So I shall be biased and start with plants as the first key element to discuss about Chinese garden design.
The first thing I noticed when I entered the gardens was the fusion of plants being used - exotics such as Camellia, Willow, Azalea and Magnolias seemed to fit so seamlessly and perfectly next to Australian natives such as Banksia.
The scenes within the gardens resemble the wild landscape in a miniature form - mountains, waterfalls, lakes etc, and whilst to the untrained eye everything may look natural, these gardens are meticulously maintained - pruning and plant training would be an ongoing task. Plants are not chosen for their beauty alone. Their form, texture and symbolic meaning is also of great importance. Bamboo represents a strong but resilient character with upright morality. Pine symbolises longevity, persistence, tenacity and dignity. Pyrus ussuriensis 'Manchurian Pear' is regarded as the "Tree of good Government", symbolising durability and longevity. The simple beauty of the lotus signifies purity whilst renewal and strength of will is symbolised in the form of the blossom of the flowering plum. Each season is represented in the garden, from the beauty of the blossom in spring to the fiery autumnal tones of the maple leaves as the season passes into winter.
I was so taken by the beauty of the lotus, both in tight bud form and when fully open. It is so graceful and dignified holding its head up high with an air of lady-like sophistication.
|Serenity and Grace all in the one perfect package|
For me, the thing to take away from this is to plant with purpose and meaning. I'm very much against following trends and don't just design to fit in with what society dictates is fashionable at the time. I think a garden is so much lovelier when it has meaning and a story to tell, be it a short story: courtyard or balcony, a penguin paperback: suburban backyard or an epic novel: sprawling country estate!