The Rocks of Contentment

Yu Yuan (豫園) is purportedly a garden designed to induce contentment for royalty. The unifying theme is rock. It is found throughout the garden in both (seemingly) natural formations and in intricate patterns. Plants and flowers are occasional focal points, but obviously not of primary concern.

To find the garden, one must navigate a sprawling marketplace which is filling every nook and cranny of the grand houses and courtyards of the once dynasty. Walking is the only mode of transportation in grounds, and there were large crowds there on the Monday afternoon that I ventured there. Many of the visitors and shoppers were Chinese. There was a small representation of foreigners, but all speaking languages I couldn’t identify.

As usual in Shanghai, there were official guards at the entrance, which was obscurely marked compared to the flamboyance of the merchants. There were no maps where I went in. There was also no particular flow of traffic. Fortunately, it wasn’t crowded inside the walled garden.

The architect was oddly creative with his use of doors. I tried to take a picture of each different one I saw. Signs claimed there was significance for every element of building design, which were as ornate as you would expect for this period of history. The open spaces were just big enough to give a sense of destination before the pathways beckoned in other directions, often giving more than one choice.

I finally found a large sign of a map near the end of my walk therein, but even looking at it gave me a limited idea of where I have been in the garden. I will try to give you a semblance of a tour with my photos.

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Now you should feel very peaceful.

About Laura Blodgett

I am just an ordinary 53 year old woman having extraordinary fun!  My fun right now includes barefoot running, swimming, triathlon training, gardening, discovering how to be a grandma (going by the grandma name of "Lulu"), sewing, studying Mandarin Chinese, learning about the stock market, non-institutional Christian fellowship, cooking, and occasional traveling. Read more about me here!

  • http://blossomingbarnyard.com/ Emtiff

    What beautiful pictures!

  • http://soundsandstrokes.com natalie

    Are the buildings in the first few pictures part of the garden area? I already have favorite sections, such as the narrow mossy path with “natural” rocks on either side in one of the photos. (I would have felt a more peaceful at the end if we didn’t have lively music playing for the morning’s chores :D Instead, I just inspected the art in an energetic state of mind.)

  • http://gourmetinthefield.com ronibird

    Those doorways look like fun! Was it a passageway garden? Some of the spaces look narrower than I would have expected from a garden garden.

  • http://anemoneflynn.com Heidi

    I’ve never seen a garden like that, from the pictures it almost looks like a set of hallways bounded by walls, rocks, or water, that connect in a maze. It looks like it would be nice to visit sometime. :-)

  • Rachael

    Lovely pictures! I don’t necessarily feel more peaceful, but I do feel impressed. :) Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.dailyimprovisations.com Laura

    Yes, Beth, I think you could call it a passageway garden.

  • http://www.dailyimprovisations.com Laura

    Heidi, much of it was like a maze, which is why I was not inclined to go into the part on the map marked specifically to be a maze! I was “mazed” enough. :-)