Humble Administrator’s Garden is the largest classical garden in Suzhou, enjoying a reputation of being the “Mother of Chinese Gardens”. It is considered as one of China’s four most famous gardens, along with the Summer Palace in Beijing, the Mountain Summer Resort of Chengde in Hebei Province and the Lingering Garden in Suzhou. As a part of Suzhou gardens, it has been included in the World Heritage List.
The Humble Administrator’s Garden was originally built in 1509 during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) as a private garden of a former government administrator, who got the name for the garden from an essay called “To cultivate my garden and sell my vegetable crop is the policy of humble man”.
The focus of the garden is its central pool around which cluster charming pavilions and walkways. Covering an area of 52,000 square meters, the garden as it stands today falls into the eastern, central, and western parts, and a dwelling quarter.
The eastern part is called “Dwelling upon Return to the Countryside”, which is mainly composed of low hillrocks, pine forest, lawns, bamboo groves and twisting waters, which are strewn with artificial hills, pavilions and kiosks, showing a simple, lucid and lively style. The main buildings of this part include the Orchid Snow Hall, Heavenly Spring Pavilion and Broad View Pavilion (also known as Clumsiness Remedy Pavilion).
The central part is the quintessence of the garden, with one third of its area covered by a man-made pool. All the pavilions, terraces, towers and kiosks were built by the rippling pool.
The Hall of Distant Fragrance (Yuanxiang Tang), named after a lotus pond nearby, is the main building of the central part, as well as the main building of the whole garden.
It is beautifully designed with latticed panoptic windows on each of the four walls, so that you can marvel at the scenery in all directions. The hall is a perfect place to enjoy the lotus blossom in summer.
The Small Flying Rainbow Bridge in the central part is the only corridor bridge in the gardens of Suzhou.
The western part is called “Supplementary Garden”, with a winding water surface and waterside pavilions and towers, showing a well-conceived layout. The Hall of Thirty-Six Pairs of Mandarin Ducks and the Hall of Eighteen Camellias are the most magnificent buildings of the west part. Both being stylishly furnished, with paintings and calligraphy works hung on the walls, these two halls symbolize the leisurely life of the owner.
The dwelling quarter contains the typical civilian residences in Suzhou, and it has been converted into the Museum of Suzhou Garden. There are four exhibition halls in all, showing the development and charms of Suzhou landscape gardens.
The Humble Administrator’s Garden has also been the site of many floral exhibitions. There are azaleas and lotus flowers exhibitions in the garden during peak seasons. At the end of the west garden, more than 700 bonsais of some 50 kinds are displayed. And precious Chinese stones are shown in the Elegant Stone House in the Central Section.
Add: No. 178 Northeast (Dongbei) Street, Pingjiang District, Suzhou, Jiangsu. 215001
Admission: 70yuan (Apr. 16-Oct. 30); 50yuan (Oct. 31-Apr. 15).
Opening Hours: 07:30 to 17:30