Christof Baier
"'Heritage Gardens'. Singapore’s Asian Garden Representation at Gardens by the Bay as Third Space?"

The separation from Malaysia in 1965 deprived Singapore of a true hinterland. In 2008 Min Geh and Isla Sharp asked if “the globe itself [could] become Singapore’s hinterland?” and emphasized: “Globalization is one of the many challenges that confront both Singapore’s national identity and her natural heritage”. (Geh/Sharp 2008) Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay are supposed to be one way to answer these challenges. This paper discusses Gardens by the Bay as twenty-first-century example of the tradition of using ‘high-tech gardens’ like Parc des Buttes-Chaumont (Paris) or Central Park (New York) as visually expressive tools for urban redevelopment as well as for the conversion of a city’s self-image.
Among the spectacular setting of monumental glasshouses and ‘supertrees’ a group of small themed gardens run to risk of being overlooked. But, as its chief executive sees it, just here “nestles the heart of Gardens by the Bay.” Placed within the ‘Plants and People’ section the four so called “’Heirloom’ Heritage Gardens” are laid out in order to reflect Singapore`s four main ethnic groups – presented in Indian, Chinese, Malay and Colonial Gardens. But what kind of heritage these gardens are referring to? The paper examines, whether this Heritage Gardens acting as surrogate for actual gardens in situ or for mental models of gardening.


James Bartos
"China, Chinoiserie and the English Landscape Garden Revisited"

In the 18th century as well as the 20th century, the notion was put about either that the English landscape garden was influenced by Chinese gardening or that developments in the English garden were parallel to what had already occurred in China.  Yet, knowledge of real Chinese gardens and gardening was almost non-existent in 18th century England. Moreover, the idea of what constituted Chinese gardening changed dramatically during the century, from notions of concealed art early in the century to Sir William Chambers’ emphasis in the second half of the century on the importance of the garden’s emotional effect on the visitor, which he promoted by attribution to the Chinese as something to be emulated in England. Whilst Chinese gardens, like the gardens of ancient Rome, to which Chinese gardens were also compared, acted as a source of authority, it is difficult not to conclude that the content of that authority was invented by English writers for their own purposes.

Apart from what has been called an English literary tradition involving Chinese gardening as a model, it is a fact that numerous structures in the Chinese taste, or partly in the Chinese taste, the other part often being Gothic, appeared in English landscape gardens around the middle of the century, what Horace Walpole described as a “very numerous race”. These included wooden pavilions, small Chinese houses, bridges, umbrellas and pagodas. Indeed, in some cases there were apparent attempts to create Chinese-type scenes using a landscape with water or hills as well as structures in the Chinese taste. This enthusiasm for things Chinese must be seen as part of the much larger phenomenon of an enthusiasm for the Chinese taste across all the decorative arts and in the house, usually in subsidiary rooms.  The Chinese taste permitted freedom from the weight of history and scholarship borne by classical objects and design. The Chinese taste, both in the garden and the house, embraced the foreign, the exotic, the frivolous, the novel, the playful and the feminine, expressed outside in ephemeral wooden structures, usually as in the house, in subsidiary areas. In the eclectic mid-century garden there was a further play amongst garden structures in the Chinese taste and other geographies and histories, mixing the Chinese with Roman bridges, Turkish tents, classical temples and gods and Gothic churches or ruins.  Chinoiserie was used in the English landscape garden, but that garden was English and not Chinese.


John Dixon Hunt
"Questions of Authenticity"

“Authenticity” is a bugbear in any discussion of historical preservation (in American terms – conservation in Europe), and it likewise haunts any attempt to build Japanese and Chinese gardens outside their respective countries.  This talk will focus largely on four such re-creations: two Chinese gardens built in Sydney, Australia, and in Portland, Oregon, USA; the much larger Japanese Park, also in Portland, and the Japanese garden, Shofuso, in Fairmount Park, Philadelphia.

As David Lowenthal famously said, the “past is a foreign country”. But anything brought to the west from the east is that visiting the past is also complicated by the foreignness of that importation. So the questions about its ‘authenticity’, that must be raised, concern: materials; designers and those who executed or commissioned the gardens; the frequenting of them by locals and by visitors or residents from those countries where these Chinese and Japanese gardens are re-invented; the local context – literally, the urban or rural site in which these gardens are placed; the assumptions about Chinese and Japanese garden traditions entertained by people in foreign countries where these are recreated VERSUS any attempt to make of them something new that perhaps disarms conventional clichés.

Finally, beyond issues of place, we might consider time - what Geogre Kubler terms “the reality of duration” (1).  In other words, how do early traditional gardens from either China or Japan serve, not just as remembrances of their past in those countries, but speak today and here in the west about the present? Have we the capacity to re-interpret garden art that came before from those eastern places when it re-emerges in the west -  “a perception not only of the pastness of the past, but of its presence” T.S.Eliot (2)?

(1) George Kubler, The shape of time (Yale University Press, 1962),  p. 124.
(2) The sacred wood: essays on poetry and criticism (Methuen, 1964), pp. 49–50.


Miyuki Katahira
"Constructing the image of Japanese Gardens: Analysis of discourse on Japanese Gardens in Japan and the West"

In 1934, an English editor of House & Garden, Richard Wright, described Japanese gardens as “unfinished” in his book The Story of Gardening. Japanese gardens are “unfinished”, because a viewer has to find a final piece within his/her inner illumination, according to Wright. He associated such a way of seeing Japanese Gardens with principles of Zen Buddhism. In introducing Japanese gardens, Wright mostly focused on Karesansui (Dry landscape garden) style which is often employed by gardens attached to Zen monastery.

Likewise, Loraine Kuck, an American author of gardens, published One Hundred Kyoto Gardens in 1935, which primarily was compiled as a guidebook for the members of American Garden Club. What is notable about the book is that Kuck highlighted the importance of Zen Buddhism in the aesthetics of Japanese Gardens.

As the Karesansui garden at Ryoanji, Zen temple in Kyoto, has been a strong icon of Japanese Gardens for some time, those explanations given by Wright and Kuck might not sound unfamiliar to today’s viewers. However, the examples of Wright and Kuck reflect how the Western interest toward Japanese Gardens begun to grow in 1930s, especially in association with Zen principles. Contrastingly, in the late 19th century, Josiah Conder, an English architect, published the first extensive book on Japanese Gardens in English, and interestingly enough, he pays little attention to Zen and gardens in Kyoto. Conder’s book had been considered as a crucial resource of Japanese Gardens for Western viewers until discourse like Wright and Kuck appeared in the 1930s. Then, how such a shift occurred in the Western discourse?

I would like to argue the ways of how Western discourse on Japanese Gardens shifted, especially focusing on its relation with mixed reactions among Japanese scholars. Since Japanese scholars begun to be aware of “Western gaze” toward Japanese gardens, they seemed to have persevered in a conscious effort to construct a certain image of Japanese Gardens. I will introduce how domestic and Western discourse on Japanese gardens interacted with and even corresponding to each other by examining social and historical contexts.


Wybe Kuitert
"Context & Praxis: Thoughts on Japan & Gardens"

An artistic garden is a work of applied art that is created in the setting of a context. This context moves between two antagonistic spheres, that come together somewhere in between. One end, nature, is defined by material surroundings, the soil, the possibilities for things like planting or water, and other physical things. The other end of the context is human: it is cultural, social, financial, or whatever else humans can think of. Within these two ends, that at times may seem extremes, the garden comes about, designed and made by other humans, again with their contexts. It follows that a garden can be a multi-facetted piece of art.

To explain the complexity of the praxis of making a Japanese garden in the West I would like to introduce to you today the design and construction process of the Von Siebold Memorial Garden in Leiden, Netherlands. Its context is multiple and complex, and may give some insight into the intricate motivations that form part of the praxis of Japanese gardens in the West.

The garden was constructed in the Leiden Botanic Garden, as a memorial to the German Dr. Philip Franz Von Siebold. With support from the Netherlands government, the Embassy of Japan, and Dutch and Japanese businesses in the Netherlands, construction of the Von Siebold Memorial Garden was carried out in the years between 1987 and 1990.

Dr. Von Siebold, who was an early envoy of exchange between Japan and the Netherlands, traveled two times to Japan. He studied the local flora and fauna, as well as the way Japanese people lived and worked and at the same time taught Western medicine to Japanese students. He devoted a great deal of his time to research on Japanese plants, and introduced numerous horticultural species to Europe; many became successful garden plants in the West. After his first trip Von Siebold returned to Europe in 1830, settling in Leiden. Some specimens of the plants he brought back from Japan are still alive like Japanese wisteria, Rhaphiolepis umbellata, Chaenomeles, Japanese maple, and Japanese horse chestnut; all still growing in the Botanic Garden today. The memorial garden was constructed under an enormous Zelkova tree that dates from the early years of Siebold's introductions. The garden is hidden behind a Japanese traditional roofed mud wall; it calls traditional teahouses in Nagasaki to the mind. A dry waterfall expressed in rocks and white gravel can be seen from the arbor in the garden, it symbolically flows as a stream towards a gravel sea with islands. This dry landscape symbolizes Von Siebold's dangerous sea voyages to Japan. Visitors walking on the gravel stream arrive at the 'landing' of the arbor and encounter a bust of von Siebold. A particular garden form of Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla Sieb. et Zucc. var. 'Otakusa') is planted around the bust; von Siebold named the plant after Kusumoto Taki (his nickname for her was Otaki, whence Otakusa). He met this Japanese woman in the world of the tea houses in Nagasaki and had a daughter with her. The Von Siebold Memorial Garden narrates the life of a historical character through its symbolic elements.

The Von Siebold Memorial Garden is open to interpretation and discussion and touches upon many of the usual theoretical problems of praxis and context of Japanese gardens in the West.


Henry Noltie
“The Indian career of Hugh Cleghorn (1820–1895): economic botany and the transfer of knowledge through botanical gardens”

The biography of Cleghorn can be used to tell many stories. His career, starting as an Edinburgh-trained East India Company surgeon, was highly varied and took place at an interesting period of transition. In many ways he is best understood as a latter-day figure of the Scottish Enlightenment – characterised by agendas of ‘improvement’ and the pursuit of useful knowledge. This was expressed in many areas – from the commissioning of botanical drawings from Indian artists (in the tradition of William Roxburgh) to his role in the Madras Agri-Horticultural Society. This involved the introduction of useful and ornamental exotics to India, using the worldwide network of colonial botanic gardens and commercial nurseries, but also the exporting of Indian plants – from plants with ornamental horticultural potential to trees such as the deodar beloved of large Victorian gardens. Best known for his work as a pioneering forest conservator in this field he also combined botanical knowledge, exploitation of natural resources, which, as in his other work, involved a rich hybridity and cross-over of traditions, for example in attempting to apply the methods of German ‘scientific forestry’ in the tropics.


Bianca Maria Rinaldi
"The Invention of the Chinese Garden"

Categories are useful tools for studies in garden history. Denominations such as the Italian Renaissance Garden, the English Landscape Garden, the Picturesque Garden, the anglo-chinois Garden are used to group, classify, and describe historical gardens that share similar cultural references and aesthetic characteristics, including the general spatial arrangement, compositional elements, and the geographical area of diffusion. They also convey the cultural, social, and historical circumstances that led to the development of a specific garden type. Among these typological groups, the “Chinese Garden” is associated with a minimal descriptive formula, which, for the simplicity of its content, has became a universal icon.

Through an analysis of Western travelers’ accounts of the gardens of China compiled from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century, the paper will propose a discussion of the process that engendered, in the West, the invention of a compositional formula that epitomized the essence of the “Chinese Garden.” It will also discuss the adoption of this formula in the design of Chinese-style gardens built in variety of geographical contexts distant from China.

The gardens of China have been the focus of Western travelers’ accounts for centuries. During the eighteenth century, some authors – such as the Jesuits Jean-Denis Attiret and Pierre-Martial Cibot, as well as William Chambers – made an intellectual effort to interpret and convey Chinese garden design principles to their Western readers; while later travelers – particularly British merchants and diplomats – in their descriptions, tended toward a simplification of the design and a synthesis of Chinese gardens’ formal vocabulary. The paper will propose the late eighteenth and the nineteenth century as crucial periods in the Western invention of a generic and oversimplified “Chinese Garden”. The restrictions of movement that Westerners experienced in Qing China, the limited gardens they visited, as well as the memory of European chinoiserie, all encouraged simplistic interpretations, so that Chinese garden aesthetic was associated with recurring elements that seemed to convey a sort of shared image of Chineseness.

The paper will also argue that the Western idea of a general and generic Chinese Garden influenced the design of Chinese-style gardens built outside China from the 1970s onward, with their repertoire of typical elements and the lack of the complexities of meanings and spatial arrangement of the gardens in China.


Elisabeth Scherer
"Elaborate 'contact spaces': Staging Japanese gardens for Cinema"

From the earliest days of film, an abundance of European and American movies has been staged in exotic settings. Through these stories, the great diversity of the world was made tangible for a large audience. The attractions of the ‘Orient’ were used to enlarge everyday life in the West, but also to define the Western self in relation to and as distinct from the ‘other’. Japan became one of the most popular sites for these cinematic encounters between ‘East’ and ‘West’, and has remained so to this day.

Gardens have always played a prominent role in staging such Western cinematic representations of Japan. As settings for the plot, they become "contact spaces" where people meet and fall in love, but also sites of conflict and struggle. At the same time, real (Japanese) gardens as film locations are an important device in staging Japan, and are re-equipped, reclassified or even specifically constructed for the desired effect. The strategies for using of gardens as film locations range from the representation of the whole of Japan in one garden up to the assemblage of a perfect utopian garden out of several existing models. As the central spatial emblem of traditional Japaneseness in Western cinema, these cinematic gardens also have an active part in shaping the definitions and meanings of Japanese gardens in general.


Stefan Schweizer
"Garden History and the Problems of National Stereotypes"

This paper explores the history of national concepts in garden history. National concepts have always prevented the development of a global garden historiography. More than any other classic artistic genre, gardening as an art is conceptualized using the concept of the nation. The stylistic evolution of gardens has been characterized by national styles since the 17th century. As a result of this self-concept of the early modern period, the history of gardens was written as a history of changing national styles with the “Italian garden” for the 16th century, the “French” and the “Dutch garden” for the 17th century and the “English garden” for the 18th century. Later, national institutions and protagonists of nationalism referred to the concept of national garden traditions to also proclaim an “American” and a “German garden”.

It seems obvious that the invention of a national model of garden styles is based on the formation of nation states and part of official governmental ideology and propaganda. The diversity of gardens and – important for this context – nature and landscapes has been analogised to the diversity of culture and nations. It is less obvious why twentieth-century garden historians still cling to the concept of national gardens styles to analyse garden history. Clearly most artistic and botanic specifics of gardens cannot be explained by categorising them as national.

Eastern gardens have also been scrutinized using national categorizations. This is especially true for very early “Chinese gardens” and with outstanding success for “Japanese gardens” which rose to prominence in the 20th century.


Karin Seeber
"Imaginary gardens: Marie Luise Gothein's book on Indian garden history (1926)"

The Western discovery of Indian gardens was a phenomenon at the start of the 20th century. In England, Constance Mary Villiers-Stuart published the first work on Mughal gardens in 1913. As the wife of a member of the military forces in India, she had ample opportunity to visit the gardens in person and her book is coined by her personal experiences. In contrast to her, the author of the first German historic book about Indian gardens, Marie Luise Gothein (1863–1931), never visited the subcontinent. Gothein had written a world history of gardens, “A History of Garden Art” in 1914. In the preface to the second edition of 1926 she writes that she had always felt acutely the gap where the Indian garden was supposed to find its place. So she refers to her new book “Indian Gardens” that was published the same year.

The paper will discuss the peculiarity that Gothein develops a method of evoking three-dimensional pictures of Indian gardens despite of never having seen one. It will contrast her descriptions with Villiers-Stuart’s and it will look at the differences between Gothein’s first attempts of describing Indian gardens in “A History of Garden Art” and the approach in her monograph. Thus the analysis will give insight into the perception of Indian gardens in the west – as imaginary gardens.


Christian Tagsold
"Japanese Gardens Unleashed: From Miniatures to Advertising"

Japanese gardens have become a powerful symbol for Japaneseness. For the West they signify Japanese love of nature, a refined aesthetic sense and an esoteric realm beyond reason. Because of this, Japanese gardens have left the usual confines and appear in many (unusual) contexts. We have become accustomed to miniaturized Zen gardens for our desktops. When stressed and strained we can draw patterns in the sand with tiny rakes and calm down again – at least that is what the makers of these gardens promise. Actually Japanese gardens have been miniaturized and sold as small models in the West for more than 100 hundred years and thus the small gardens have acquired a tradition of their own.

But Japanese gardens have also been used in advertising a variety of goods and services. Expansive inner-city flats are sold using Zen garden images and so are laminate floors, design books and so on. Again the use of Japanese gardens in advertisement has a surprisingly long history of about one century in the West. Japanese gardens are such a convincing brand of their own that they can be easily connected to many messages in the highly semiotic field of advertisement. Thus we need to broaden our vision when discussing Japanese gardens and look beyond the garden fences to grasp the full impact of Japanese gardens in the West.

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