Among so many gardens in Suzhou, Yi Yuan (The Garden of Pleasure怡园) is a small garden situated at the very downtown Suzhou. It is good for solo adventure and visit during the free time by oneself thanks to the convenient transportation. The area is a good area to enjoy a cup of green tea and observe what locals do.
Among so many gardens in Suzhou like Humble Administrator Garden and Lingering Garden, Yi Yuan is really not so famous both in scale and history. It was built in the Qing Dynasty (1636-1912), which was later than most gardens. However the bright side is that it absorbed the advantages of most famous and classical gardens and presents the essence in a small area, becoming a specialty of southern gardens.
What to See
Yi Yuan is also called Si Yuan (似园). The garden is divided into two parts—east and west. West part was once for the temple and south part residence.
East Part is from the entrance of the garden. The highlights for this part are courtyards and buildings.
Follow the winding corridor and walk southward to Yuyuan Pavilion. Next turn to northwest direction and reach Xiaosa Pavilion. Then there are two paths before. The one to the west include Yuhong Pavilion, Stone Boat, Suolv Pavilion and a rockery. The one to the south present Po Xian Qin Pavilion, Baishi Pavilion and then turns to the westward and back to the west again.
This part is closely surrounded a pool, which is the heart of west part. The south side of the pool boasts a Yuanyang Hall. It is a kind of hall dividing into north hall and south hall. The north hall is for enjoying the summer by appreciating lotuses and the south hall is for winter by appreciating plum blossom and snow.
The north side of the pool is elegant rockeries, pavilions and stone boats in another style different from that of east part.
The garden was once a villa for a high official in the early Qing Dynasty, Jinmei Zhao.
There is an interesting story during the construction of the villa. At that time someone reported to the emperor that Jinmei Zhao built a palace in his hometown which stimulated the scale and structure of the royal palace.
This angered the emperor and sent officials to check immediately. Zhao family got the news rapidly and named a major temple in the garden as The Temple of Luzu (The founder of the main branch of Daoism) at that very night. The officials sent from the royal palace left without finding any proofs. Zhao family avoided a disaster cleverly and the garden was luckily survived until today.
Best Time to Visit
Spring and Autumn are the best seasons to go when the flowers are colorful in spring and leaves turn different colors in autumn. In summer lotus are very beautiful while in winter visitors can see the very rare snowy scene in the garden.