Garden of Perfect Clarity - the Garden of Gardens
One of the greatest attributes of Chinese
classic garden design, which sets itself apart from
the garden design theories and practices of all others,
is its strong emphasis on space themes. Different from
those that just play around with forms and colours and
other visual appealing elements, Chinese subject gardens
create a built environment that revibrates
the essence of Nature, and reflects the spirits of
Man, which not only gives space its depth but soul.
When designing a typical Chinese garden,
the very first step to follow is of so-called 立意为先 (theme
first), which is much like when composing a poem, planning
a painting. What truly counts here is not of words and
punctuation, or of lines and colours, or of structures
and spaces, but intangible ideas and feelings that are
articulated through or inspired by tangible objects.
However, unlike much more metaphysical expressions
of writing or painting, a Chinese spatial theme is not
only determined by abstract and subjective human conceptions
and personal experiences, but solid and objective concerns
and factors too, in particular the physical traits of the
specific environment, financial aspects, technology conditions
and material availabilities.
One of the very unique features in the Chinese
subject garden practice is that the components which help
shape the theme of a visual scene go beyond the physical
forms, as the lintels over the gates, the couplets on the
walls are all quintessential parts of a spatial theme.
Without prose, a subject garden would be considered short
of cultural dimensions thus lingering at a shallow and
One of over a hundred theme gardens in
the Garden of the Gardens