Huntington Library: Center for East Asian Garden Studies to present “Unscholarly Gardens: Rethinking the Gardens of China” symposium, Feb. 29, 8:30 am – 5 pm

The Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens

Center for East Asian Garden Studies presents:

“Unscholarly Gardens”: Rethinking the Gardens of China

Saturday, Feb. 29, 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Rothenberg Hall
Registration required, $15

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 p.m.  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.


For inquiry, email or  call (626) 405-3503