Once the largest private garden in China, the Bao Family Garden was originally the private property of a wealthy Chinese businessman in Anhui Province. The garden was maintained and expanded by generations of the Bao family from it's inception during the Ming (CE 1368-1644) Dynasty through to the Qing (1644-1911) Dynasty. The Bao Family Garden is neighbor to the Tangyue Memorial Arches, a row of seven towering archways erected along a meandering stone path, each arch dedicated to the memory of a particular Bao family member.
The expansive Bao Family Garden is jointly maintained today by Huangshan Zhong'an Economic and Trade Resource Development Company and Shexian Tourist Development Limited Company. The main subsections and/or attractions of the garden, many of which bear colorful Chinese names (here translated literally) are:
The Penjing* Garden (which includes The Garden of Elaborate Works, The Schools Garden and The Mountain & Stone Garden),
The Large Lawn Garden,
The Entrance Plaza Garden,
The Pigeon Plaza Garden,
The Seasons Garden,
The Local Garden (which specializes in plants from the Yellow Mountain area),
The Hui Culture Exhibition Hall (which exhibits original works by famous Chinese painters and calligraphers),
The Tea Garden Slope,
The Pine Forest Slope (which encompasses the Happiness Forest),
The Aquatic-Plant Garden Lake,
The Playing Lake,
The Fishing Lake,
The Enjoying-Fish Pool,
The Pleasure-Boat Dock,
The Mountain & Stone Waterfall,
The Penzai Gardening Nursery,
The Pottery Bar, and
Worthy of particular mention are the Happiness Forest as well as the Pleasure-Boat Dock and the Enjoying-Fish Pool, where pleasure boats anchor up ready to receive the visitor. Fruit trees and nursery stocks covering an area of over twenty hectares abound throughout the Bao Family Garden. The garden boasts a number of highly ornamental plants, expecially the penzai, or miniature trees, and the visitor will find more than a thousand different types of clay pots in the style of one of six pottery schools: Hui, Su, Yang, Chuan, Hai, and Lingnan.
In addition, the Bao Family Garden has an extensive potted landscape (garden) which the visitor can stroll through leisurely. There is an impressive array of clay pot types on display here, reflecting the breadth of styles that belong to the aforementioned six pottery schools. Indeed, the Bao Family Garden is home to the greatest number of potted plants – as well as the greatest number of potted plant varieties – of all potted plant landscapes in China. For lovers of the art of tree miniaturization as well as lovers of plotted plant landscapes, the Bao Family Garden at Yellow Mountain is a venue not to be missed.
* Penjing is the ancient Chinese art of miniaturization. It is achieved through the skillful, repeated pruning of tree seedings with the aim of stunting their growth while permitting an aesthetically pleasing miniature tree shape to emerge which gives the illusion of age. Penjing is very much related to Taoism, especially the concept of Ying and Yang. The art, or process, itself of miniaturization is termed penjiang while the finished product is called penzai (as in "a penzai tree", "a penzai landscape", etc.). In fact, the word "bonsai" is simply "penzai" rendered in the Japanese language.