Thanks to the tender temperature of Jiangnan region (Yangtze River Delta or South of Yangtze River) and sufficiency of rainfall and abundance of products plus the extraordinary beauty of nature, the regional economic and cultural development after several migrations from northern China after West Jin Period, and it made the construction of garden be possible.
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The elites of East Jin Period preferred the elegance and nature, and they built their houses or mansion in cities or in countryside, Gu Pijiang, an authoritative figure, built the gardens in Wujun(吴郡), today’s Suzhou, and Tao Yuanming built his private house in Chaisang(柴桑), today’s Jiujiang, Jiangxi province. The royal gardens featuring the luxury and magnificence are represented by the classical gardens of Nanjing, anciently called Jiankang(建康) famous as the capital of six dynasties of China. Bai Juyi, one of the greatest poets of Tang Dynasty, firstly discovered the abstract beauty of Tai Lake Rock when acted as the governor of Suzhou. And the later people formed the tradition to decorate the gardens with Tai Lake Rock.
In Southern Song period, a large number of gardens built in Jiangnan Region, and Linan, today’s Hangzhou and Wuxing, today’s Huzhou, were the centers of Jiangnan Gardens. In Ming and Qing Dynasties, Yangzhou and Suzhou were the centers of Jiangnan Classical Gardens, due to the unprecedented economic power of Huizhou Merchants.
Jiangnan Gardens is highly valued for its water, because the sites of many classical gardens are all near to water. In Beijing, the royal gardens and private villas or gardens were all located close to lake or river like the Rear Sea, and Jishui Pool. Up to Qing Dynasty, most of these gardens were changed to be the palaces, and the surrounding area of Rear Sea, there were more private gardens and villas. And these gardens and villas were all featured of the Jiangnan garden art.
The garden style of Ming Dynasty inherited the features of classical painting themed with mountains and water blooming in Tang and Song Dynasties, and it was highlighted with the lake view, and ancient trees and flowers to create a kind of natural beauty and surroundings. The most famous technique of these gardens is Jie Jing(借景, Borrowing View).
In Qing Dynasty, exactly after Emperor Qianlong, there are more buildings in gardens, and the whole architectural style tended to deluxe and sophistication, which is absolutely different from the architectural style of Ming Dynasty. During Ming and Qing Dynasties, the economic prosperity and developed culture in region of Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces boosted the large development of gardens in Nanjing, Huzhou, Hangzhou, Yangzhou, Wuxi, Suzhou, Taicang and Changshu. And these gardens paid more attention to the literary imagery construction as well as emphasized the expression of mood as well as affection.
Despite the Jiangnan Classical Gardens declined, but currently, it is also the No.1 in the aspect of amount, and many of them were built between Taiping Heavenly Kingdom and Later Qing Dynasty. The early sites of classic gardens in Jiangnan Region include Yangzhou Pingshantang built in Northern Song Dynasty, Canglang Pavilion of Suzhou and Yanyu Tower of Jiaixng both built in Five-Kingdom period, Luofang Pavilion built in Song Dynasty. The Lingering Garden and Humber Administrator Garden of Suzhou, Jichang Garden of Wuxi, Yu Garden of Shanghai, Guqi Garden of NanXiang, Gong- Family Garden of Jiading and Chunyu Garden of Kunshan were all built in Ming Dynasty. Nowadays, the better preserved gardens in Jiangnan are most in Suzhou and Yangzhou.
Zhuozhen Garden, Suzhou