The construction of Heyuan Garden features some western style because its owner He Zheng once served in the legation of Qing regime in France. The garden has bright characteristics of the times. The gate of Heyuan Garden once stood in the ally at the northern part of the garden; the lintel of the door is carved “Jixiao Village”. Entering the gate, you will find the garden is divided into the east part and the west part by a corridor.
Walking across the pavilions and moving west along the mountain, you can then climb the tower by steps. The tower is built against the wall of the garden. It has a Banyue Terrace, where you can appreciate the moon at night and the scenery of the garden in daytimes. You will experience the different feelings on and down the platform.
At one side of Banyue Terrace stands the corridor which is divided into two by a wall. Both the lower and upper floors of the platform can get you to the west part of the garden. The corridor on the lower floor is decorated with the stone carving of Haishi Tie (a book containing models of handwriting or painting for learners to copy), the calligraphy by Su Dongpo. Moreover, there are louchuang, the artistic lay out of water-burnished bricks with exquisite designs. From the east of the floor you can see the wonderful scenery in the west of the garden. The unique design of louchuang, through which scenery could be spot, is one of major characteristics of Yangzhou gardens. The west of the garden is the principal part and the most fantastic component of Heyuan Garden. There are seven pavilions to the north of a big pond. Three of them are quite extruding, and two on both sides seem more extending with raised roof corners like butterflies. Therefore they are also called Butterfly Pavilions. Cloisters in the garden connect the upper floors with the lower floors; they are over 400 meters long and can circle the garden, for which the building is named chuanlou (“chuan” means to be connected and “lou” means a building). The wainscot of Chuanlou is carved with paintings and calligraphies of Zheng Banqiao; the west wainscot of the cloister is embedded with stone inscriptions of The Three Letters of Yanlugong. Walking downstairs and upstairs in the building, tourists can fully appreciate the unique sceneries which are characterized by variation and creation. The exquisite design of Heyuan is a representative creation of gardens in Yangzhou.
To the east of the big pond lies a pavilion surrounded by water. At the side of the pavilion stands the Shiban Bending Bridge (used to be called Yuliang Bridge). It starts from Minglou Tower and extends to the corridor close to Banyue Terrace. Standing in the pavilion, you can lie against the railings and appreciate the beautiful fish swimming in the lake water; or you can sit on steps and take sweep view of the beautiful scenery of various terraces and pavilions. The crystal clear lake water and the elegant constructions over water make you feel you are in a fairyland.
The four-corner square pavilion at the center of lake is called Little Square Kettle. By “Square Kettle”, it refers to “the sacred mount in sea”. Some believe that the square pavilion is a good place for opera performance because the lake water can echo voice and thus strengthen the acoustic effect. In fact in TV series like Dream of Red mansions and Bi Sheng, the square pavilion of Heyuan Garden is selected as a background. The pond has rockworks in the southwest and yellow stones as its wall; every part of the pond is purely natural. At the back of the rockworks stand the Xixuan Pavilion and Mutai Terrace; on the slope of the rockwork grows two pines; stones of various shapes just add some flavor of ancient times to the rockwork. Under the artificial mount lies a water hole where the crystal like lake water runs with rhythm and sometimes tinkling sounds. To the south of the rockwork flies the plank road built along a cliff. It matches with chuanlou in an artistic way. The mounts, waters, terraces, and pavilions present, in an integrate manner to the tourists, the wonderful scenery of Heyuan Garden. Along the south wall of the garden, you will pass by three corners and find a gate to the south courtyard of the garden. There is a storied building and a room in the courtyard; in front of them are artificial rocks and mounts which are connected with the storied building. Scenery in the courtyard can be appreciated from two layers and four parts. Looking at them from different angles, each component of the scenery in the yard displays its own beauty and all of them therefore constituting a long roll of pictures. In addition, thanks to the decoration of louchuang, the mutually connected cloisters, exquisite rockworks, crystal like lake water, and inverted images in the garden are, to the largest extent, arouse the interest of tourists. In the garden, quietness is accompanied by movements and little things dotted by large ones. Only by visiting Heyuan Garden yourselves can you experience the unique point of Heyuan Garden in real sense.