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Cherry Vale (Yingtaogou) Garden
Cherry Vale, commonly known as the Zhou Family Garden, is situated at the foot of Shou’ an Mountain near the Xiangshan Park. Walking west from the Temple of the Reclining Buddha one comes to a narrow, winding path, which leads to the Cherry Vale-a quite, secluded valley ideal for summer visits. During the Ming Dynasty, the Temple of Broad Wisdom (Guanghuisi) was built here. In front of and behind the temple were orchards in which cherry trees were especially abundant. Hence the valley obtained its present name.

Entering Cherry Vale, one can hear the rushing water of a small brook bounded on either side by numerous strange rock formations. At several points along the stream, pools have formed which are used for swimming, rearing fish and irrigating the nearby fields. Along the stream toward the northwest, numerous species of wild flowers and fragrant grasses grow.

Along the stream in the direction of the mouth of the valley, the sound of a bubbling spring can be heard. The clear spring trickles between rocky crevices and forms tiny rivulets that wind their way in and out of strange stone formations. The cascading water plays a continually changing melody as it splashes against the rocks.

Dividing the wooded mountains into two parts is a small gully called the “Vale of Retreat”(Tuigu). This is said to have been the hermitage of the Ming scholar Sun Chengze, who enhanced the natural mountain landscape by planting forests of pine and bamboo. Sun is also credited with having built a pavilion here known as the “Old Man’s Retreat”(Tuiwengting). He also gave himself the poetic name “The Hermit of the Vale of Retreat.”

The pines growing on the slopes beside the source of the spring are particularly attractive. At the “Clear Spring Teahouse” two ancient white-barked pines form lush green parasols overhead. While great forests of pine rise up on the mountain crags all around, the valley floor is planted with luxuriant green bamboos.

Following the small road west and turning north, one will come upon another verdant pine forest. Crossing through the adjoining bamboo grove, one will come to another stone pavilion. On its pillars two lines by the Tang poet Wang Wei have been etched:

Stroll to where the waters begin to flow,

And sit and watch the rising clouds.

On the cliff opposite the pavilion, there is another inscription in ancient seal calligraphy:

Here are the traces of the immortal riding upon a white deer;

The hermit retires to dwell in the tranquil valley.

To the west is a finely carved granite bridge transported here from the mansion of Prince Duan in Beijing. By crossing this bridge and following a mountain path, one will come to a large, high stone stairway. At the top pf the steps is a small gate inscribed with the words “Deer Crag Lodge.” Crossing the threshold, one enters the Cherry Vale Garden. The modern scholar Ji Shui described the garden as follows:

“A stairway providing a series of contrasting vistas rises to the beginning of a narrow, winding trail; There are several small cabins here, half hidden in the shade of the trees. Earthen terraces are faintly visible on the slopes of the stony peak. Lush bamboos bow to the wind and wild flowers bloom in abundance. Early spring welcomes the return of swallows, while the mid-summer sky resounds with the cry of the cicada. Here at all places and all seasons one is struck by the purity and freshness of the valley.”


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