The Empire of Ming
An old Chinese saying goes, “In heaven is paradise, on earth are Hangzhou and Suzhou. The centuries-old gardens of Suzhou, considered the most beautiful in China, served as a model for the Chinese garden in the Hortus.
During the Ming Dynasty, wealthy merchants and officials had large private gardens laid out. Here they retreated to devote themselves to nature, painting and poetry. The Chinese Garden in Haren is another one of those gardens where you can dream away. The garden is designed so that there is something blooming in every season, and even in winter the garden has a beautiful look.
In a Western garden you often have an immediate overview of the entire garden, but in a Chinese garden this is precisely not the case. Walking through the Chinese garden is like wandering through a Chinese painting. Galleries with surprising vistas, pavilions, winding paths with changing viewpoints, a pond feature, an island and a waterfall are meant to make visitors dream. Thoughts are carried away by the imagination. A Chinese garden is full of symbolism. In addition to plants, water, stones and architecture, written texts play an important role in the perception of the garden. Naming is also important, and the pavilions and parts of the garden have been given such wonderful names as The Garden of Tea Making, the Thousand Things Pavilion, the Moaning of the Dragon Tea House, the Path through the Forest of Eternal Bamboo and the Lake of Red Carp with the Isle of the Beloved. The Chinese Garden received the name The Hidden Realm when it was opened in 1995 by H.M. Queen Beatrix.
The origins of the Chinese garden
In 1986, a Groningen trade mission visited several cities in China. While visiting a restaurant near the Long Hua temple in Shanghai, one of the members of the mission said that “they should have something like this in Groningen, too. And so it happened. Master Le Wei Zong, Shanghai’s famous urban garden architect, created the first designs during a visit to the Hortus. Shanghai provided construction materials and the Netherlands provided the necessary funds.
Almost all the material used to build the Chinese garden was shipped from China to the Netherlands, from the stones in the garden and the wood of the pavilions to the furniture of the Moaning of the Dragon Tea House. For seven months, dozens of Chinese workers laid out the park largely by hand, because “What you make by hand, you can put your soul into. The result of this cooperation between the Netherlands and Shanghai is the beautiful Chinese garden The Hidden Kingdom of Ming, which was officially opened by H.M. Queen Beatrix on April 12, 1995.
On the pillars to the left and right of the entrance gate are the names Shanghai and Holland, and on the entrance gate itself is the word Friendship Garden in Chinese characters.