The Lingering Garden was listed from the
first as cultural relics of national importance in 1961.
With an area of 23, 310 sq. m. , it is celebrated for its
artistic way of dealing with the spaces between various
kinds of architectural form. Buildings make up one third
of the total area of the garden, the hall of which being
the most remarkable in Suzhou . The garden is separated
into the middle, eastern, northern and western parts.
The ancestral temple and the house lie to the south
of the garden.
Featuring man-made mountain and lake scenery
in the west and garden courts in the east, the middle
part of the garden is the original site of the Xu's
East Garden and the Liu's Hanbi Villa, and is regarded
as the best part of the whole garden. The eastern, northern
and western parts are the extensions of the Sheng's
Garden. The eastern part is noted for its strangely
shaped limestones, the northern part idyllic scenes,
and the western part the delights of woody hills.
A winding roofed walkway behind the small
entrance of the garden, while leading to the places of
quietude, shows the masterly use of contrast between
big and small, straight and zigzag, and light and shade.
After strolling for about 50 meters, one can catch a
glimpse of lattice-windows revealing a half visible
landscape garden behind. Interestingly enough, the view
is changing at every step.
The middle part of the garden is centered
upon a lake with man-made moutain in the north-west
and a number of attractive buildings in the southwest, such as the Hanbi Moutain Villa, the Pellucid Tower, the
Green Shade Pavilion, the Zigzag Stream Tower, the Hao
Pu Pavilion, and the Refreshing Breeze Pavilion by the
lake. The mountains made mainly of yellowstones and earth, believed
to be designed and piled up by Zhou Binzhong, look very
much archaic and splendiferous. The admirable Crane House,
the Small Garden of Stone Forest, the Return-to-Read
Study in the east with the Celestial Hall of Five Peaks
as the chief stucture are laid out in such a way that
the indoor spaces have been brought into perfect harmony
with the outdoor spaces. With an evocation of infinity, they
are successfully made to be labyrinthine.
Flanked by the Auspicious Cloud and Mountainous
Cloud peaks, the 6. 5-meter-high Cloud-Capped Peak, the
highest limestone in the classical gardens of Suzhou,
is believed to be left behind by the imperial collector
of the Northern Song Dynasty, Mass of buildings, including
the Old Hermit Scholars' House, the Cloud-Capped Tower, the
Cloud-Capped Terrace and the Awaiting Cloud Temple, are
put up to give emphasis to the Cloud-Capped Tower, The
northern part is now a bonsai garden in which about
500 valuable bonsai are put on display.
The western part of the garden sets a fine
example of good-looking earthen hills studded with yellowstones
and covered with maple trees. There is a winding brook
lined with peach trees and weeping willows.
The number of stelae in the Lingering Garden
have never been surpassed by any other gardens in Suzhou.
Superbly inscribed with the works of more than a hundred
calligraphers in Jin, Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing
Dynasties, these invaluable stelae bring to light the
evolutionary course of Chinese calligraphy in the past
The whole garden possesses with pride 42
rooms and halls, a 670-meter-long roofed walkway, 200
lattice-windows of different kinds, 44 parallel couplets
and stone carvings, 373 stelae, and 17 such valuable
old trees as gingko, southern wistaria, etc. which fall
into 8 catalogues.