Located in Suzhou – the once capital of the kingdom of Wu – the Lingering Garden is one of the most beautiful gardens in a city already filled with beautiful gardens. Dating back to the 16th century, the garden has been through many different owners and has been many travel though it. Its ability to stay – to linger – isn’t just a reference to this though. It’s also a reference to the garden’s ability to linger in your mind longer after you’ve visited.
Interesting Facts About the Lingering Garden
- The Lingering Garden has gone through several different name changes throughout time. This has usually coincided with the change in ownership.
- The Lingering Gardens have been a public garden since around 1823, when the owner, Liu Su, decided that the garden should be seen by everyone, not just him.
- The Lingering Garden is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, yet it is also home to two UNESCO world heritages: the musical artforms of Guqin and Pingtan.
- The Lingering Garden occupies a total area of 23,310 m2 and is divided into 4 sections: Central, East, North, and West. This is seen to mirror the form of a traditional Chinese poem.
The History of the Lingering Garden
Located just outside the Changmen gate in Suzhou, the Lingering Garden was originally commissioned by an official known as Xu Taishi.
When it was originally built, the garden was actually known as the East Garden, and it quickly became known of throughout the kingdom as one of the most beautiful and elegantly designed gardens in the Kingdom of Wu.
In around 1798, the garden’s ownership was passed to Liu Su, who renamed the garden the Cold Green Village. He expanded the size of the garden and added some of his own additions inside of its walls. This included several ‘scholar stones’ and the Celestial Hall of Five Peaks.
In 1873, ownership once again changed hands and the garden ended up becoming the property of the Hubei treasurer known as Sheng Kang. He repaired the garden and helped to bring it back to its former glory.
The garden was once again given another name. This time Liu Yuan. In Chinese, it connotes fun and leisure, which is exactly what Sheng Kang desired the garden to be. Unfortunately, once the garden passed to Sheng Kang’s son, it was largely left abandoned and fell into disrepair.
Most recently, the Suzhou government took over the garden and gave it another renovation, returning it to the place of relaxation and leisure it once was. In 2001, the Lingering Garden was officially designated a UNESCO world heritage site as part of the Classical Gardens of Suzhou.
The Culture Of The Lingering Garden
The Central Garden: The main area of the Lingering Garden. The Central Garden is the oldest part of the Lingering Garden and features several buildings located around the pond. There is also a man-made mountain here, along with a long scroll of traditional Chinese paintings. If you’re looking for a place to take a leisurely stroll whilst admiring the beauty of the Lingering Garden, this is definitely one of the main contenders in the park.
The Eastern Garden: The Eastern Garden is known for its winding roofed walkway and its quietness. This is the perfect place to find the solitude and peace and quiet you’re looking for. Escape from the hustle and bustle of your everyday life for a while by taking in what the Eastern Garden has to offer. You’ll find another fake mountain here, known as the Shi Ping Peak. It has been designed in the image of the Tiantai Mountain in Putao.
The Western Garden: The Western Garden is a collection of earthen hills dotted with yellow stones and Maple trees. You’ll also find a winding brook here, with the sound of water just enough to provide that feeling of relaxation. Peach tree and weeping willows dance in the wind.
The Northern Garden: The Northern Garden is home to one of Suzhou’s largest Bonsai tree collections. You’ll find over 500 valuable Bonsai trees which have been looked after and trimmed to perfection. Every detail is looked at here and every thing you see if measured to enhance the experience.
Explore Classical Music: The Lingering Garden is also known as one of the last sites where you can experience the traditional music of Pingtan and Gunqin. These two musical art forms are looked after by the people of the Lingering Garden and have come to be UNESCO World Heritages in their own right. Guqin is an instrument with 7 strings, which can be played similarly to a harp. Pingtan, on the other hand, is something which more resembles modern rap. Instead of singing, the performers speak and talk along with accompaniments like drums or clappers.
See the Scholar Stones: Scholar Stones are special stones which have naturally found themselves shaped in unique ways. The Lingering Garden is home to some of the best and most beautiful Scholar stones in the whole of Suzhou, if not China. Make sure to spend some time admiring them and you might see something you didn’t expect.
Tips For Visiting the Lingering Garden
- The best time to visit the Lingering Garden is in spring. It is during this time that the gardens come alive and that most of the flora are in bloom. Winter is best avoided as the Lingering Garden does not look as impressive as it does the rest of the year.
- Try to visit the Lingering Garden during a weekday. Despite having been around for hundreds of years, the Lingering Garden is still as popular as ever. Arriving on a weekend can lead to you not finding any of that ‘peace and quiet’ you might be looking for.
- The entrance fee to the Lingering Garden is 55 CNY for adults during peak season (Jan, Feb, Mar, Jun, Nov, and Dec), and 45 CNY During off-peak times (Apr, May, Jul, Aug, Sep, and Oct).