The Humble Administrator's Garden

Photo adapted from Robert Paul Van Beets |

This year, Chinese New Year falls on February 10 and revelers around the world will welcome the New Year of the Snake. People born in the year of the snake are said to be great problem solvers and to have excellent time management skills.  Good career choices for Snakes include scientist, analyst, and investigator.

Right about now you may be wondering what this all has to do with gardens and Chinese New Year. Please be patient and bear with me.

It turns out that the garden widely considerred to be the finest in Southern China is called the “Humble Administrator’s Garden.” The 16-acre garden was built over 500 years ago  in the southern, tropical city of Suzhou. The builder? A retired envoy and poet, Wang Xianchen. Apparently, he was inspired by a verse from Pan Yue’s Idler’s Prose, “I enjoy a carefree life by planting trees… I irrigate my garden and grow vegetables… such a life suits a retired official like me well.” it was initially the residence and garden of  Lu Guimeng, a Tang Dynasty scholar.

Something tells me that either Xianchen or Guimeng (or both!) were born in the year of the Rat. People born in that year are known to make good administratorsdirectors, and managers.

None of the possible career choices for the 12 animals representing each year  (rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, pig) mention “blogger,” so I guess their won’t be a “Humble Blogger’s Garden” anytime soon. On the bright side, there isn’t any mention of the career  “reality show winner” either.

If you find yourself sight seeing and looking for attractions in Southern China, check out the Humble Administrator’s Garden. It’s not every day you can see a beautiful living memorial to an administrator!



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