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"Unscholarly Gardens": Rethinking the Gardens of China

The Huntington Library hosts a day-long symposium on the various, often overlooked styles of Chinese gardens.

February 29, 2020 8:30am to 5:00pm

The image of the Chinese garden that most commonly comes to mind is that of the white-walled, gray-tiled gardens built by scholar-officials and merchants in the city of Suzhou during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). The Huntington's own Liu Fang Yuan is among the best-known examples of such a garden outside of China. However, despite its iconic status in the contemporary imagination, the Suzhou-style scholar's garden is only one type among many. Others of particular importance to the histories of horticulture and landscape design include monastic gardens, merchant gardens, medicinal gardens, and market gardens. This symposium will explore the rich variety of these unscholarly spaces to complicate common assumptions about what makes a garden in China.



8:30 a.m.  Registration & Coffee

9:15 a.m.  Welcome and Introduction
Phillip E. Bloom, The Huntington
Nicholas Menzies, The Huntington

9:30 a.m.  Keynote Address
"Leaping the Wall: The Expansion of Chinese Garden Studies in the Last Thirty Years"
Alison Hardie, University of Leeds

Session I: Productive Gardens

10:35 a.m.  "How Does your Garden Grow? Gardening Manuals and Horticulture in Ming and Qing China"
Nicholas Menzies, The Huntington

11:05 a.m.  "The Early Botanical Gardens in China"
Jing-Ping Liao, South China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences

12 pm  Lunch

Session II: Imagined Landscapes

1 p.m.  Moderator: Richard Strassberg, UCLA

1:10 p.m.  "Planting the Roots of Goodness: Gardens in Chinese Buddhism"
Phillip E. Bloom, The Huntington

1:40 p.m.  "Hangzhou's West Lake"
Antonio Mezcua López, Universidad de Granada

Session III: Floristic Landscapes

3:00 p.m.  "In the Gardens of the Richest Man on Earth: Hong Merchants' Gardening Taste in 18th-19th Century Guangzhou"
Josepha Richard, University of Bristol

3:30 p.m.  "Scenery in a Pot or Container Garden? Penjing and Flower Arranging as Botanical Microcosms"
Kathleen Ryor, Carleton College

4:25 p.m.  Closing panel

This symposium is made possible through generous support from the Sammy Yukuan Lee Foundation and the William French Smith Endowment.