The Lingering Garden was listed as national
cultural relics in 1961.
With an area of 23,310 sq.m. it is celebrated for its
artistic way of dealing with the spaces between various
kinds of architectural form.
Buildings make up one third of the total area of the
garden,the hall of which being the most remarkable in
Suzhou . The garden is separated into the middle ,eastern,northern
and western parts. The ancestral temple and the house
lie to the south of the garden.
Featuring man-made mountain and lake scenery in the
west and garden courts in the east,the middle part of
the garden is the original site of the Xu's East Garden
and the Liu's Hanbi Villa,and is regarded as the best
part of the whole garden. The eastern,northern and western
parts are the extensions of the Sheng's Garden. The
eastern part is noted for its strangely shaped limestones,the
northern part idyllic scenes,and the western part the
delights of woody hills.
A winding roofed walkway behind the small entrance of
the garden,while leading to the places of quietude,shows
the masterly use of contrast between big and small,straight
and zigzag,and light and shade. After strolling for
about 50 meters,one can catch a glimpse of lattice-windows
revealing a half visible landscape garden behind. Interestingly
enough,the view is changing at every step.
The middle part of the garden is centered upon a lake
with man-made moutain in the north-west and a number
of attractive buildings in the southwest ,such as the
Hanbi Moutain Villa ,the Pellucid Tower,the Green Shade
Pavilion,the Zigzag Stream Tower,the Hao Pu Pavilion,and
the Refreshing Breeze Pavilion by the lake.
The mountains made mainly of yellowstones and earth,believed
to be designed and piled up by Zhou Binzhong,look very
much archaic and splendiferous.The admirable Crane House,
the Small Garden of Stone Forest, the Return-to-Read
Study in the east with the Celestial Hall of Five Peaks
as the chief stucture are laid out in such a way that
the indoor spaces have been brought into perfect harmony
with the outdoor spaces. With an evocation of infinity,they
are successfully made to be labyrinthine.
Flanked by the Auspicious Cloud and Mountainous Cloud
peaks,the 6.5-meter-high Cloud-Capped Peak, the highest
limestone in the classical gardens of Suzhou, is believed
to be left behind by the imperial collector of the Northern
Song Dynasty,Mass of buildings, including the Old Hermit
Scholars' House, the Cloud-Capped Tower,the Cloud-Capped
Terrace and the Awaiting Cloud Temple,are put up to
give emphasis to the Cloud-Capped Tower,The northern
part is now a bonsai garden in which about 500 valuable
bonsai are put on display.
The western part of the garden sets a fine example of
good-looking earthen hills studded with yellowstones
and covered with maple trees.There is a winding brook
lined with peach trees and weeping willows.
The number of stelae in the Lingering Garden have never
been surpassed by any other gardens in Suzhou.Superbly
inscribed with the works of more than a hundred calligraphers
in Jin,Tang,Song,Yuan,Ming ,and Qing Dynasties, these
invaluable stelae bring to light the evolutionary course
of Chinese calligraphy in the past 1,000 years.
The whole garden possesses with pride 42 rooms and halls
, a 670-meter-long roofed walkway,200 lattice-windows
of different kinds, 44 parallel couplets and stone carvings
, 373 stelae,and 17 such valuable old trees as gingko,southern
wistaria,etc. which fall into 8 catalogues.