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Lingering Garden

The Lingering Garden is located at Liuyuan road, outer Lumen Ave., Suzhou City, Jiangsu Province.

The Lingering Garden is one of the four classical gardens in Suzhou City. In the Jianing reign of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), an official named Xu Jiongqing from the Taipu Temple built two gardens here: one in the east and the other in the west. The one in the east is the predecessor of today's Lingering Garden. In the later years of the Qianlong reign, Liu Shu got the eastern garden. He rebuilt it and changed its name to "Hanbi Mountain Villa". Because the owner Liu Shu was quite fond of stones and his surname was Liu, the garden was called the Liu's Garden accordingly. In the 12th year (1886) of the Guangxu reign, the garden became in the possession of a wealthy comprador Sheng Xuren, and changed its name to the Lingering Garden. After Suzhou City was recovered in the 1911 Revolution, the Lingering Garden and other possessions of Sheng Xuren were confiscated by the revolutionary army. The Lingering Garden experienced several damages in the following years, and became a big staple for Japanese during the War of Resistance against Japan. After new China was founded, Suzhou municipal government set aside a sum of money to repair the Lingering Garden. Since then, the Lingering Garden has taken a new look.

Covering an area of 23,310 square meters, today the garden is separated into the eastern, central, northern and western parts.

The central part, which has the longest history and is the essence of the Lingering Garden, is the original location of former Hanbi Mountain Villa, which was centered by the Guangchi Pond, with rockeries to its west and north part and buildings to its south. A small Penglai Islet stands in the pond, connecting with the banks by a winding bridge. Those stone steps around the pond are mainly built of yellow stones. Rockeries in the west are covered with green trees. Via the corridor, you can climb to a pavilion on the top of the rockeries. Looking down, you can see all the sceneries: east and south to the pond, Hanbi House, the Mingse Building, the Lyin Veranda, the Quxi Building and other buildings standing around the pond. Big or small, far or near, high or low, these buildings are changeable with suitable and distinct gradation, showing the ingenuity of the builders.

The grand and luxurious the Wufengxian Hall to the east of the Quxi Building is the biggest hall in all the gardens in Suzhou City. It is nicely decorated. In the south part of the Xietiao Hall is the largest rockery of all the classical gardens in Suzhou City. The Jifeng Building and several neighboring yards are in the east part. The central part of the Lingering Garden is surrounded by verdant rockeries and pavilions with corridor as well as and bridges, flowers and trees blooming in four seasons. As meaningful as a poem and as beautiful as a picture, this part presents the main scenic spot of the Lingering Garden.

Walk eastward from the Jifeng Building, you will get to the eastern scenic spot of the Lingering Garden. Here is for buildings. Different forms of buildings with corridor here and there show the elegance, serenity, and glory. The Wufengxian Hall and the Linquan Maoshi Hall are the two major scenic spots of the east part.

The Wufengxian Hall, as the largest hall throughout China, is also called Nanmu Hall because of the Nanmu used for its beams. It is 5-bay wide and built of hard rocks. Furnishings inside are elegant. Five rockeries that stand in the front of the hall are the biggest of all the rockeries-in-lake in Suzhou City. A small and novel yard is behind the hall with rockeries, ponds and corridors in it.

The Linquan Maoshi Hall is 5-bay wide with single-eaved gable and hip roof. It includes two rooms: the south room called Qishishou Taigu Veranda and the north room called Linquan Maoshi Hall. A round ridge roof caps the inner hall. The beams in the south room are round, simple and elegant; while those in the north room are flat and richly ornamented. Accordingly, these two rooms are collectively called as the Yuanyang (mandarin duck) Hall. The whole building is marvelous and glorious so that it is regarded as the masterpiece of the classical buildings in China. The hall faces northward three famous rockeries of the Lingering Garden: the Guanyun Hill stands in the middle, and the Ruiyun Hill and the Youyun Hill stand on its sides. The Guanyun Hill is 5-zhang (1 zhang = 3.33m) high, featuring wrinkles, thinness, transparence and holiness. It can be described as crystal-clear. As the highest rockery-in-lake of all the gardens in Suzhou City, the Guanyun Hill is said to be relics from a historical site in the Song Dynasty (960-1279), or relics of the East Garden of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Below the three hills, rockeries scatter here and there with blooming flowers and grass. Around the three hills are the Huanyun Pond, the Guanyun Pavilion, the Guanyun Building, the Guanyun Platform, the Shangyun Hut and so on. These buildings are all magnificent and elegant.

The pavilion of Good sunshine, nice rainfall and fast snow is next to the Guanyun Hill. Here is the beginning of the south part that takes on idyllic scenery. Corridors, bamboos, straw sheds, peach and apricot blossoms, beanstalks and pumpkin vines, bridges and waters altogether create the sense of the Land of Peach Blossoms.

The west part is known for the interesting rockeries that are integrated into the natural scenery. Stones on them alternate with the earth; maple trees have grown into a forest. On the left, walls are weaving; to the north, a peach yard is also called small peach dock; in front, a brook is winding away. From the top of the rockeries, the Huqiu Hill, the Tianping Hill, the Shangfang Hill as well as landscapes in the west yard can be seen clearly.

The four scenic spots of the Lingering Garden are of different features. They set off each other with certain connection, but distinguish from each other at the same time. Though empty buildings alternate with solid ones, and the scenery seems complicated, they share a distinct gradation. When viewed in ichnographic angle, they are rich in changes; when viewed in dimensional angle, they are natural and have many appearances. The corridor connecting all the scenic spots is 700 meters long in total, winding with the topography and making the scenery endless and changeable. It is really a masterpiece of gardens in China.

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