Where We Be
Courtyard Gardens -- Suzhou, China
The most famous courtyard garden in Suzhou is
called the Garden of the Fishing Net Master. It
is considered by many to be the best example
of a traditional Chinese garden not only in
Suzhou but in all of China. Although it is the
smallest of Suzhou's residential gardens, it
uses reflections in the water as we might use
mirrors today to create the illusion of a bigger
space. The ambience of tranquility and harmony
is really quite something here.

The garden got its start in 1140 AD, then fell
into disrepair until 1785 when it was restored by
a retired government official who claimed he'd
rather be a poor fisherman than a bureaucrat.
Both he and the original creator were inspired
by the simple, solitary lives of fishermen.

At the center of the garden is a lovely pond
with lilies. Covered walkways let you view it
from different angles, and it seems no matter
where you stand or what angle you take, you
get a splendid view. Each window and doorway
frames a new perspective. I particularly like an
open window with a beautiful wood-carved
design framing a stand of live bamboo (shown
left). We enjoy every moment of our time here
and spend the last fifteen minutes just sitting
quietly, enjoying a view of the lily pond.
Intersections of curves and straight lines add interest
Indoor rooms and outdoor courtyards have a simple, uncluttered charm
So much of what makes this garden special is framing. This "landscape window" makes you feel like you're looking in at a painting.
You can walk around the lily pond and enjoy it from different perspectives. The garden feels bigger than it is because of the reflections in the water.
This frame focuses our attention on simple stalks of bamboo, helping us see how lovely they are
Small things seem to magnify in importance here