China Tour 2013
April 10th – 23rd, 2013

April 20th
It had to happen sooner or later….rain. Not heavy but rain none the less. Still people are out walking around the lake that I can see from my room. They carry brightly coloured umbrellas, people are doing Tai Chi under the eaves of the pavilion – I can see one with a sword, the glint of the blade is visible from here - and the birds are singing…it will still be a good day! Gardeners deal with rain all the time and to walk in it and take photos of the drops of rain on the flowers is also magical.

Suzhou’s smallest garden, Master of the Nets , measures just 5,400 square meters but appears much larger thanks to clever landscaping techniques. It originally belonged to a minister of the Song Dynasty, who commissioned it in 1140. He longed to turn his back on his ministerial duties and lead the life of a simple fisherman, hence the garden’s name. It passed through several hands until 1785 when it was acquired by a Qing-era government official who added much to its design. As with most traditional gardens, it is divided into three sections. The main area contains a large pond with walkways and a pavilion. The small inner garden has been replicated at the Pompidou Centre in Paris and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Full of nooks and crannies, wonderful vistas and I am sure many stories to tell.

From here we visited the Silk Factory where we all got the chance to see how silk was made. It is a process that impresses as you see each strand from the cocoon become silk thread and then fabric. We also got to stretch the silk that is used in the filling for comforters. Many of those are now on the coach and waiting to go home. They have a huge store where you can buy clothing, gifts, scarves, ties, and just about anything made with silk.

Then it was lunch and our last visit to the Lion Grove Garden. This garden started life as part of a Buddhist temple in 1342. A monk named Tianru ordered his disciples to landscape it in memory of his master, Zhongfeng. After Tianru himself died, the disciples disbanded and the garden fell to ruins. It was bought by a relative of the contemporary architect I. M. Pei who handed it over to the state in 1950 and it has been restored to its former beauty. Twisting paths meander between gnarled rock formations taken from Lake Tai; rockeries are reflected in tranquil pools. Lion Grove Garden was particularly popular with the Qing emperor Qianlong and is one of Suzhou’s finest.


  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row