The garden was built around 1513 by a retired government official. I’ve heard two versions around the naming of the garden – some say the official had been demoted in his job and building the gardens was a way of making amends. Others say the name comes from an essay about the simple life of a humble man. Either way, there is nothing humble about this garden.
Typical of a classical garden of the Ming Dynasty, the central theme is water, and the long, twisting lake is the focal point for the many pavilions and halls that grace its banks. Every path seemed to lead to little treasures, such as a bonsai garden, small water wheel, a peaceful bamboo lined path, a thatched-roof hut, and a small wooden boat tied up to shore. The garden is divided into East, Middle, and West. The east garden is more natural, while the other sections are filled with halls and pavilions that offer a place to rest and enjoy the views. There is also a nice teahouse, although we ran out of time to visit it.
This was the only garden with an abundance of bedding plants and hanging baskets, and the bright colours of the flowers seemed almost incongruous with the simplistic lines and typical greenery that we’d come to expect from a Chinese garden.
The garden is open daily from 8:30am to 6pm, and admission is 70y. During the summer, there is an annual lily show and the admission price increases.
If you have time before or after Humble Administrator, head over to The Lion Grove, just a short distance away by foot. The contrast between large and small, classical and rugged is intriguing and provides a nice balance.
Results 1-3of 3 Reviews
by Re Carroll
Abbotsford, British Columbia
June 14, 2005
From journal Suzhou - The Garden City
by Lauren T
December 20, 2001
That said, the Humble Administrator's Garden may be a better place to linger than the Garden for Lingering in. This may be because, while it isn't a place for kite-flying, it works more with large open spaces. The small, partitioned compartments, which wind around through the Garden for Lingering in accentuate the beauty of the garden's small details, but the small spaces and the crowds can produce a claustrophobic feel. The large open areas of the Humble Administrator's Garden, however, make it seem a bit less uncomfortably crowded (in reality, you can expect both gardens to be similarly crowded-the Humble Administrator's garden just holds more people, comfortably, per unit of area).
The Humble Administrator's Garden, the largest of the Suzhou gardens, is almost twice as big as the Garden for Lingering in. It is divided by a wall into two large subsections. The first section, the one in which you enter the garden, is on first glance less spectacular than many other Suzhou gardens (like the Lingering Garden). The decor is mostly trees, grass, and flowers (most Ming gardens are centered around rocks and water and less on flowers and grass), and while it is very lovely, it lacks the details and overall meticulousness that you find in other gardens. There is a reason for this. The large grassy areas are actually being walked on, and the area is very conducive to just hanging out in the garden - and you will typically find plenty of people doing so. While there are tons of little places around this area of the garden to sit down, talk to friends, and generally relax and enjoy the scenery, you may find that all the best ones have been taken. Still, you aren't likely to feel like your personal space is being invaded.
The second section consists of a series of pavilions artfully arranged around a large lake. While the first section is low-key the second is spectacular. It looks like something from a children's book and is exactly what I have always thought a Chinese garden (or more China) was supposed to look like.
However, while the large lake produces a feeling of open space, the actual walking area consists of narrow paths which wind around this lake - so you are likely to find that after you have had a good look around, you will want to return to the first section to relax and enjoy.
From journal Suzhou--"Heaven on Earth"
Townsville, Queensland, Australia
September 4, 2001
Many experts say this is the best of the Suzhou gardens and it is rated as one of China’s four famous gardens. It was built in 1522 by a local official and covers 12 acres. Water is the main theme of the garden, along with rockeries, pavilions, towers, flowers and plants.
We spent more than an hour in the garden and would have stayed much longer except for the very hot and humid weather (34C). An hour was just long enough to walk most of the paths and hear a little about the connection between gardens and Chinese literature and painting. The garden, in fact, integrates landscaping, culture and art with nature. The horizontal inscribed boards, the calligraphy, the couplets, and the decorations not only embellish the gardens but also serve as important historical and cultural records.
Given cooler weather, we could have spent several hours here, exploring the pavilions and hidden corners that we did not see.
From journal Great Gardens and More