Panoramas of Suzhou

The most famous gardens in Suzhou is Zhuozhen Yuan (Humble Administrator's Garden), known for its vast expanse, ponds and hillocks with their pavilions.

The Chinese city Suzhou (or Soochow) is famous for its ancient gardens, lovingly crafted by men of high position in their years of wealth and retirement. Their concept of fengshui, juxtaposition of nature and construction, incorporating the sky, greenery, water and rocks within their not-so-humble abodes, have become quintessentially Chinese characteristics. Yin and yang fit perfectly in their world, and these gardens are an oasis of peace and tranquillity within the bustling Chinese city. Travelling from Shanghai (via high speed railway, it takes just 20 minutes), I spent an enjoyable eight hours in Suzhou, wandering in its fabled gardens and enjoying their beauty.     

Another view of the Humble Administrator's Garden, with the exquisite Xiang Zhou (Fragrant Isle), a boat shaped pavilion on the left.

Corridors hugging the side of lakes are a feature in the Humble Administrator's Garden.

A short distance away is the Shizhi Lin (Lion Grove Garden), famous for its labyrinthine rockery which take on fantastic and grotesque shapes.  

The most elegant and exquisite of gardens is the Wangshi Yuan (Master of the Nets  Garden), so named because its builder had dreams of becoming a fisherman in his later years. Its central lake is the most beautiful feature of this little hideaway.

The moat the runs along the north-eastern edge of Canglang Ting (Blue Wave Pavilion) is a most picturesque sight.

Canglang Ting is the oldest surviving of all Suzhou gardens. This courtyard fronts the Ming Dao Tang (Hall of Enlightenment), which takes on a special interest for yours truly as it incorporates the generational names of my family (Ming for my father's generation, and Dao for my own generation).