Courtesy of the National Chinese Garden
More than 30 years ago, on a trip to China, I found myself captured by the classical gardens of Suzhou. While I’d never been one to think much about gardens, all of that changed following that visit. And for a couple of decades thereafter I thought about building some form classical Chinese garden in the two small spaces on the side and in the back area of our house.
Finally, when I retired, and following a redo of our kitchen, I had time to focus on designing and building my own Chinese gardens. Over a period of two years and in partnership with a wonderful landscape garden builder, Thomas Virnston, we designed and built what we now call The Humbler Blogger’s Garden (after The Humble Administrator’s Garden in Suzhou) and a companion Fragrant Reader’s Garden.
(A few of you may remember that I blogged about this back in Sept., 2013 and linked to an article that a magazine did on the two gardens. Unfortunately, the link to that magazine article is no longer active, though you can see some YouTube videos that Thomas has on his website about our efforts.)
Some of my most pleasant hours of the day and evening are when I am reading and listening to the waterfall in The Fragrant Reader’s Garden or just gazing at The Humble Blogger’s Garden from our kitchen.
Last night I was over the moon, so to speak, to learn that after many years of thought, planning, false starts, disappointments, etc. an ambitious project will now get underway shortly to build a 12-acre National China Garden at our National Aboretum.
According to the Washington Post, the Chinese government has committed to spend $100 million to construct “a garden containing all the elements of a classical Chinese landscape: enticing moongate entrances, swooping and soaring roof lines, grand pavilions with carved wooden screens and groves of golden bamboo. The grounds will boast of two dozen handcrafted pavilions, temples, and other ornate structures around a large central lake.”
Courtesy of the National China Garden
While there are a number of Chinese designed and constructed classical gardens outside of China — there is the wonderful Lan Su Garden, taking up an entire city block in downtown Portland, OR — nothing has been built matching the magnitude of the 30-month project soon to be underway in the National’s Capitol.
All the details of the project are in today’s Washington Post article, From Beijing to D.C.: $100 Million in Seed Money.
Barring any mishaps, three years from now Washington and our country will have a “re-creation of (the) historic gardens in Yangzhou (China), a city along the Yangtze River,” and, I suspect, an unparalleled destination for visitors just two miles from the US Capitol.
I can hardly contain my excitement. While such a project has been envisioned since 2003 (and then delayed on numerous occasions), it is finally coming to fruition. I plan to spend many hours there. And if you are visiting DC and happen to be staying at our house, expect that I will be happy to accompany you to the National China Garden by 2020, just three years away.