Garden Design

The power and beauty of a garden

The Seattle Chinese Garden is being designed and built by a collaboration of architects and artisans from Seattle and Seattle’s sister city, Chongqing, as the first Sichuan-style garden in the United States. Sichuan gardens serve as settings for exuberant civic celebrations and quiet contemplation. They feature streams, ponds and falls flowing through valleys and rock formations in designs reflective of the natural landscape; plants are grouped in symbolic associations celebrated in traditional Chinese painting and poetry.

From ancient times Chinese city planning has been characterized by symmetry and control. Chinese gardens, meanwhile, appear natural and unregulated. Whereas cities were Confucian, gardens were liberated and Daoist: one promoted social order and hierarchy, while the other encouraged personal fulfillment.

The garden was understood as a microcosm, a miniature but complete universe where all the forces of nature were present. The principles of yin and yang played out in complex arrangements of water, rock, plants and architecture. Since gardens often were small they achieved an impression of size and complexity by means of suggestion and surprise: the waterfall springing from a secret source, the winding path leading into a hidden courtyard.

Each Chinese garden is really many gardens and many experiences, whether urban or rural, the garden conveys a sense of the infinite. The Chinese garden ideal is to provide its visitor with access to philosophical wisdom, spiritual insight, emotional balance and physical health.

Click here to see the Seattle Chinese Garden site map (this will launch in a new window).