Thursday, June 19, 2008

Check out the Seattle Chinese Garden

Lorraine Toly and Yangming Chu hosted me and a few other community members for a "hard-hat tour" of the Seattle Chinese Garden yesterday. It's an inspiring project, likely to be one of the largest Chinese Gardens outside of China!

The Garden is currently a construction site and is only opened for guided docent tours; the free guided tours are offered at 10:00 AM March-October on the second Saturday of the month, no reservations needed.

Click here for details on the Saturday tours and for information on arranging special group tours

What is a Chinese garden?
Chinese gardens reflect peace and balance – and the reconciled forces of yin and yang – through their symbolic use of water, plants, architecture and stone. In the Seattle Chinese Garden, these elements will interact to create a refuge from daily life and a vibrant center for education, community gathering and Chinese culture.

Where will the Seattle Chinese Garden be built?
The garden will be located on 4.6 acres at the north end of the South Seattle Community College campus at 6000 16th Avenue SW, in West Seattle. The site features a spectacular panoramic view of downtown Seattle, Elliott Bay and the Cascade Mountains, including Mt. Baker and Mt. Rainier.

How does a Chinese garden benefit Seattle?
The Seattle Chinese Garden will be a place of celebration and beauty for everyone to enjoy. A Chinese garden in Seattle will enrich our understanding and enjoyment of Chinese culture and strengthen our economic ties with China. It will also become a unique educational and cultural resource for adults, children and students in Asian studies, art, architecture, Chinese literature, horticulture, history and environmental science.

The Garden will provide a magnificent range of Chinese plants and horticultural elements that will fascinate both experts and novices. Gardeners will enjoy viewing a unique palette of Chinese plants placed in an authentic Sichuan landscape design, encounter a collection of spectacular Sichuan-style penjing (Chinese bonsai) and take classes in horticultural subjects.

Groups will be able to use Garden facilities for meetings, weddings and other celebrations, as well as for cultural events such as concerts, dance and theatre. This Garden will also be ideal for the practice of meditative and martial arts. Gardening groups will be able to use the garden’s facilities for meetings, displays and workshops.

What is the significance of the garden form in Chinese culture?
Since ancient time, the Chinese have viewed the garden as a microcosm of the universe. This unique garden form melds China’s history, art and architecture, philosophy, literature and horticulture into one comprehensive experience.

What is significant about the Seattle Chinese Garden design?
When built, the garden will be one of the largest Chinese gardens outside of China. Designed and built in conjunction with architects and artisans from Seattle and its sister city, Chongqing, the garden will be the first in the United States to authentically represent the Sichuan style. The Garden will feature Sichuan horticulture and the massive rock formations inspired by China’s Yangtze River gorges. Where possible, its formal halls and pavilions will be fabricated in Chongqing using traditional materials and methods, and skilled artisans from China will supervise their installation in Seattle.

Will the Seattle Chinese Garden be open to the public?
Yes. The garden will be open to the public most days for an entrance fee. Some free days will also allow the general public to enjoy the garden to its fullest. The garden and facilities will be managed and maintained by the Seattle Chinese Garden, a nonprofit charitable organization.

When will the Garden be complete?
We are building the Garden in phases. Much site work has been done, we are now constructing the Education Center, adjacent to the Garden site, completion is expected by January 2008. Work will soon begin on "Knowing the Spring" courtyard, the second traditional structure in the Garden. Knowing the Spring will be dedicated in August, 2008. Components for this courtyard will be fabricated in Chongqing, and assembly performed by Chinese artisans from Chongqing and local contractors. The entire project is expected to be complete within 10 years.

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