Chinese gardens can be divided into two categories, the imperial and the private. The former are seen most frequently in northern China, while more of the latter can be found in the south, especially in Suzhou, Wuxi and Nanjing.
Small and delicate, cleverly laid out and pleasing to eye, the streams, bridges, rockeries and pavilion of a private Chinese garden reveal a natural beauty of their own. Most of the bridges in these gardens are of stone, including straight, winding and arched bridges. The straight bridge consists of just one stone slab without any decoration, and is usually level with the riverbank or with the river to make the visitors feel as if they are surrounded by water. The winding bridge has low balustrades. The arch bridges can be divided into the single-arch and the multi-arch varieties. Streams in these gardens do not cover a large area, but fit in well with bridges and islets to yield a uniformed effect.
Rocks and rockeries are special features of southern Chinese gardens. Stones of grotesque forms are often attractive with undulated lines and water holes. Some large stones form sceneries of their own, while smaller ones are put together to form artificial hills to add to the fantastic attractiveness of the garden. Corridors form another feature of Chinese gardens. There are water corridors built along a riverside, flower corridors inserted among flowers, willow corridors among rows of willow, and bamboo corridors among rows of bamboo. For visitors, these corridors are good travel guides leading to various views of a big garden.
Corridors are dotted by windows of various shapes—square, round, hexagonal and octagonal. Many of the windows are decorated with very beautiful patterns and designs. Tourists can have an excellent view of the garden through these colorful corridor windows. The doors to the gardens, like the windows, are also carved in many different shapes, to bring more vividness and elegance to the surroundings.
Walls of these gardens are usually painted white. Hidden among the flowers, trees and hills, white walls stand in sharp contrast to the gray tiles and brown windows. Strolling about these gardens, with the tree shadows swaying on the white wall and willow reflections dancing in the ponds, tourists may then find themselves truly enjoying a moment of peace and relaxation in this paradise beyond the turmoil of the world.