Crafting a Garden: Inside the Creation of Liu Fang Yuan

Oct. 22, 2022–May 29, 2023 | Crafting a Garden sheds light on the intricacies of the Chinese Garden through models, photographs, tools, and videos that tell the story of its design and construction.
The Roofs of Liu Fang Yuan (detail), 2021–2022. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.

The Roofs of Liu Fang Yuan (detail), 2021–2022. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.

The Paving Patterns of Liu Fang Yuan (detail), 2021–2022. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.

The Paving Patterns of Liu Fang Yuan (detail), 2021–2022. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.

The Flora of Liu Fang Yuan (detail), 2021–2022. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.

The Flora of Liu Fang Yuan (detail), 2021–2022. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.

Flowery Brush Library (Bi Hua Shu Fang): Elevations, 2009. 1:50 scale CAD drawing, digital print. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.

Flowery Brush Library (Bi Hua Shu Fang): Elevations, 2009. 1:50 scale CAD drawing, digital print.
The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.

Stargazing Tower: Ceiling, 2022. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.

Stargazing Tower: Ceiling, 2022. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.

Black Pine (Pinus thunbergii), 2022. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.

Black Pine (Pinus thunbergii), 2022. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.

Flowering Peach (Prunus persica ‘Early White’), 2022. Digital photograph.

Flowering Peach (Prunus persica 'Early White'), 2022. Digital photograph. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.

Paving Pattern: Overlapping Squares and Coins, 2022. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.

Paving Pattern: Overlapping Squares and Coins, 2022. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.

The Huntington’s Chinese Garden—known as Liu Fang Yuan, the Garden of Flowing Fragrance—is more than what it seems. With its tiled roofs, wooden columns, and inscribed placards, it appears to be a replica of the historical gardens in Suzhou, China, that inspired its design. But underneath those seemingly traditional elements are complex layers of materials and ideas unique to the garden’s setting in contemporary California. “Crafting a Garden: Inside the Creation of Liu Fang Yuan” sheds light on the intricacies of the Chinese Garden while heightening appreciation of all that it contains.

On display are models, photographs, tools, and videos that tell the story of the design and construction of the garden. The exhibition is organized around five fundamental crafts involved in creating Liu Fang Yuan: Building, Paving, Mountain Making, Planting, and Writing.

Liu Fang Yuan features a variety of different types of buildings—imposing halls, whimsical pavilions, thatched huts, and more.

Liu Fang Yuan features 12 different paving patterns created from clay tile, shards of limestone, and river rocks of various colors.

The Huntington’s Chinese Garden is filled with ornamental plants from Suzhou and hearty California natives.

Literature fills The Huntington’s Chinese Garden. Among its corridors and courtyards, inscriptions in Chinese calligraphy are everywhere.