Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Scholar's Garden

My friend Carol and I went on a photo date this morning. She took me to the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Garden in Chinatown, Vancouver. I've lived her 25 years this summer and oddly, I've never been. We drove down streets I've never even been on and I can see I'm going to have to go back and explore because there were tons of things I would like to shoot.

We arrived early and chose to have a guided tour of the gardens. I'm glad we did-our tour guide was a lovely Asian lady who was extremely knowledgeable and patient with my many questions about how some of the elements of the garden (like the stone masonry) were constructed. I have a feeling those are not the sorts of questions she's used to getting. (I'll blame my Gramps for my interest in that kind of stuff.)

I learned alot about Chinese design. For example, the key shaped doorways are symbolic of the gateway to heaven. Any doorway that is square shaped is the doorway to earth. When human beings stand in the space between these two portals, they are happiest. What I loved most was that every single doorway and window was created to frame the natural beauty of the garden. When you move slowly through the spaces, you see some amazing vignettes.

These are some of the roof tiles, which have intricate patterns on them. I shot this because I liked the symmetry. There is the symbol for longevity on the face of each one and flanking that symbol on both sides are bats, which are considered to bring happiness. The garden has thousands of bats (symbols, not the actual animals) in it.

There are four elements to a Scholar's garden: water, plants, stones and architecture. Part of the beauty of the garden is the pond that runs through it. The pond water is specially treated so it's always a dark jade colour. If you look closely, you can spot some of the resident turtles sunning themselves.

There are water lillies throughout. They're in bloom this time of year.

So gorgeous! One thing I really appreciated about the garden is that it's so relaxing. There are high walls surrounding it, so you can't hear the traffic of the downtown core. It's like a serene oasis in the middle of the city. One thing that was really cool was that I got to see a real live Ginkgo tree. I've only ever seen the leaves and fossils of the leaves, but never a live tree. It's really beautiful!

I spotted frogs in the pond. You have to be quiet because they are quite skittish and if you make too much noise, they disappear. The garden was pretty much ours for the first hour or so, so we got some good shots.

There are also large school of koi fish in the pond, some of which are 45 years old! Part way through the morning, one of the guides struck a small gong and then put it in the water as it vibrated. They do this so the koi feel the vibration in the water and make there way to a certain spot in the pond to be fed. The kio came quickly and they are quite tame. It was pretty amazing!

 I think this is far and away my favourite photo of the day. I love how the light is coming through the window and how it frames the long hall on the other side. It's a Light Hunter's paradise!

On our way out, I spotted this trike and had to take a photo. I love the little Chinese lanterns hanging above. So charming!

One of the best things about Vancouver is that there are so many wonderful treasures neatly tucked away, just waiting to be discovered. THANK YOU Carol for introducing me to this wonderful place. I learned so much this morning and had such a good time! I can't wait to explore Chinatown!

1 comment:

Carol Browne said...

I love your photos...I agree with you - that shot through the window is amazing. LOVE IT! Next time we'll go to Chinatown and have some delicious Chinatown Chinese food. You'll love the old style pharmacies and all the other visual treats.

Also, I had a great time. Thank you!