Idyllic Retreats - Chinese and Japanese Gardens

Art expert to trace Asian influence on landscape design.

Idyllic Retreats - Chinese and Japanese GardensSea Pines Garden Club will sponsor a special treat for Hilton Head Island garden lovers when internationally recognized Asian art expert and filmmaker Paula Haller presents a lecture and slide show program titled “Chinese and Japanese Gardens: Idyllic Retreats.”

The unique event will take place at 10 a.m. March 23 at Coligny Theatre and will last one hour. Tickets are $10 and are available (while they last), at the following locations: The Greenery at both Bluffton and Hilton Head locations, Christie’s Hallmark at Bluffton and Hilton Head locations, Pretty Papers at Wexford and Burke’s Main Street Pharmacy. Further ticket information may be had from Diana Norlander at (843) 363-6580. Ticket availability is limited to seating capacity of Coligny Theatre.

Haller will compare and contrast Chinese and Japanese gardens in their many diverse moods, elements and relationship to the history and culture of both societies.

China has been called the Mother of Gardens and its early beginnings and influence throughout succeeding centuries testify to that.

But why are we Westerners so intrigued by these gardens that many of us wish to incorporate some of their mystique and “otherness” into our own private spaces?

Haller will address this in detail with slides of many of the finest examples from both countries, how they came to be, how they differ and how they relate to and reveal their respective values and philosophies.

She will describe and define the great Samurai gardens of Japan as well as the fascinating “scholar-gentleman” landscapes of China. Additionally, she will provide insight into how these gardens have been depicted in Chinese paintings, scrolls, screens and every facet of Oriental ornament to include pottery, porcelain and domestic and ceremonial objects.

We are all aware of the exquisite design of these articles as well as their value and Haller will illustrate the persistent link between the art of garden and landscape design and its creative impact as reflected in virtually all dimensions of Oriental art.

Long-time residents will recall the very fine Japanese-style garden designed by the late prominent landscape architect Clermont Lee of Savannah. This garden at the former Mechling residence on Calibogue Cay was praised by a Japanese visitor as being “the most satisfactory small Japanese style garden” that he had seen in
this country.

It is a great pity that it no longer exists, having fallen victim to redevelopment. Note that it is appropriate to designate it a “Japanese-style” garden, as purists opine that a true Japanese garden can only exist within the confines of that country.

They may be right. One reason, apart from aesthetics, is that, for Americans, the commitment to maintenance, no matter what the means available for it, will never approach that of the Japanese. It’s a cultural thing.

A word about Chinese gardens available to visit on this continent would have to include the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Park and Garden in Vancouver, Canada. Local construction teams worked with Chinese artisans to create what is said to be the first truly authentic classical Ming Dynasty garden ever built outside China. Except for the plant material, all construction materials, including 400 tons of Tai Hue rock, were brought from China. It is definitely worth a detour if you are even remotely in the neighborhood.

Returning to our actual neighborhood, come to Coligny Theatre on March 23 to hear, see and be enchanted by a discourse from a talented observer who has extensive Far Eastern experience and who can transport, inform, educate and delight all of us who love and need the beauty of a garden, whether Western or Eastern. Beauty is not just in the eyes of the beholder – it is universal and available.

Since there is no reserved seating, get tickets promptly and be on time!


“Chinese and Japanese Gardens: Idyllic Retreats”

When: 10 a.m. March 23
Where: Coligny Theatre
Cost: tickets are $10, available at The Greenery at both Bluffton and Hilton Head locations, Christie’s Hallmark at Bluffton and Hilton Head locations, Pretty Papers at the Village at Wexford and Burke’s Main Street Pharmacy.
Call: Diana Norlander at (843) 363-6580.