Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese gardens

Designers: Joe Wai, Donald Vaughan, Wang Zu-Xin, Landscape Architecture Co. of Suzhou | City: Vancouver, BC | Project Type: Chinese gardens
Date Visited: 12.21.12

Locations: 578 Carrall St Vancouver BC
Size: 0.3 acres
Cost: $5.3 million (1986)
Completion Date: April 24, 1986


Recipient of numerous accolades, such as “World’s Top City Garden” by National Geographic, the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden provides a world-class garden experience as well as a significant cultural heritage to local and international visitors.

Nestled within Vancouver’s Chinatown, this classical Chinese garden depicts a 15th Century Chinese scholar’s garden during the Ming dynasty. Following with classical Chinese garden design, the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Garden is based on the harmony of four main elements: rock, water, plants, and architecture. Their harmonious combination creates an experience of perfect balance, yin and yang.

My photographs during the daytime were of the adjacent Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Park, which though was constructed around the same time as the classical Dr. Sun Yat-Sen garden, lacks the authenticity of the garden next door. Instead of visiting the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden during the day time, however, I elected to return at night for the Secret Lantern Society’s 19th Annual Winter Solstice Lantern Festival.

Lighting up the darkest night of the year, the classical Chinese garden was awash in brilliantly glowing lanterns, hanging from tree limbs, adorning doorways, and lighting up the winding pathways. Many, if not all, of the lanterns were hand-made, papier mache assemblages sometimes showing off colorful squares or gingko leaves. A community-based event, the Lantern Festival also hosted a ceremonial tea tasting, live music, and small food vendors. A magically lit night.

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