|Chinese Garden displays a balanced harmony of heaven and earth; mix natural objects and manmade structures. It is a place for solitary or social contemplation of nature. To be considered authentic, a garden must be built and planned around the following essential elements: Rock, Water, Architecture, Pavement, Decoration, and Plants.
Decorative rocks, sometimes termed Chinese scholar's rocks, are used both for structural and sculptural purposes. The sculptural Taihu rock is especially prized because it represents wisdom and immortality, and is only procurable from Tai Lake, just west of Suzhou.
Water is an important element in Shanghai's Yuyuan Gardens.Chinese gardens usually feature a central pond and several offshooting streams. The softness of water offsets the solidity of the rocks, while also acting to reflect the constantly changing sky above. Goldfish and mandarin ducks are two of the most commonly raised fauna.
The architecture of a garden consists of pavilions for various purposes, walkways, and outer and inner walls.
The pavement of a Chinese Scholar's Garden might include intricate natural patterns or simply dirt depending on the wealth and mission of the owner.
Decoration consists of calligraphy carved into rocks or walls, and lattice windows.
Many garden plants have essential symbology. Pine trees represent wisdom and bamboo represents strength and upright morality. Plum trees are also extremely valuable to the Chinese for their beautiful pink and white blooms during winter. Chrysanthemums were also extremely well-loved because of their autumn bloom (when most plants wither and die) and symbolizes the perfect Confusician scholar. Peonys symbolizes wealth and power, and the lotus symbolizes purity (also a revered Buddhist plant). Climbing roses|, camellias, ginkgos, magnolias, jasmine, willows, sweet osmanthus, and maples were also planted.
The variety of sensory features enhance a garden's appeal. Windows frame garden views. Trees and flowers provide aroma. Even the intricate designs of pavement and gravel offer tactile enjoyment.
Chinese garden was created in the same way as a combination of landscape and paintings together with poems - this was the so-called "poetic garden." The design of Chinese gardens was to provide a spiritual utopia for one to connect with nature, to come back to one's inner heart, to come back to ancient idealism. Chinese gardens are a spiritual shelter for men, a place they could be far away from their real social lives, and close to the ancient way of life, their true selves, and nature.