Celebrated for the delights of the wilderness of mountain and forest scenery,the Canglang Pavilion is the oldest among the existing classical gardens of Suzhou. The exact location of the Canglang Pavilion can be found in the Song Dynasty map of Pingjiang (Suzhou,A.D.1229) inscribed on the stele.The northern Song poet Su Sunqin said in A Record of the Canglang Pavilion,…To the east of the Confucian Temple were earthen hills covered with trees and grass,and a wide expanse of water,quite different from the urban scenes… I was reluctant to leave because I fell in love with this place.So I bought it for 20,000 coins,built a pavilion on the rock projecting over the water on the north and called it the Canglang Pavilion.Fan Chenda wrote in Historical Records of Wu Jun under the Song Dynasty,The Canglang Pavilion is located to the south of the Confucian Temple,fronting an area of about 1.6 ac.of water space…During the reign of Qingli(1044 A.D.) Su Sunqing bought it and built a pavilion by the water,called the Canglang Pavilion…The name of the Canglang has been known to all far and wide since then. On the whole the present garden of the Canglang Pavilion still keeps the style of the Song.It features a range of man-made moutains inside the garden and waterscapes outside.Proceeding past the pure expanse of water over a zigzag bridge of stone and through the entrance,one comes to the garden and catches sight of man-made mountain covered with age-old trees and bamboo,running from east to west. At the foot of the mountains are rocky slops.The Canglang Pavilion in the shape of a square stands at the top of the mountain and has a parallel couplet from the Song poets on the stone pillars to heighten artistic conception,reading ,The refreshing breeze and the bright moon are priceless,the nearby water and the distant mountains strike a sentimental note,Most of the garden buildings,simple and plain,were rebuilt in the Qing Dynasty,carefully arranged around the mountains and connected by a long roofed walkway. A double-corridor built by the canal lies to the northof the garden,unifying waterscapes outside the garden and mountain scenery inside in one breath through its latticed windows, one of incredible examples of borrowed scenes in the classical gardens of Suzhou.There’re over 100 different latticed windows with impressive designs,possessing extremely high artistic value.
To the south of the mountains is the chief building of the garden,called the Enlightenment Hall. Other building include the Smelling Prunus Mume Pavilion,the Realm of Yaohua (Yaohua is said to be a kind of jade-like,sweet-smelling flower in the Chinese garden of Eden,which can help prolong the life expectancy of those who behold it.),the Mountain-in-View Tower,the Elegant Bamboo House,the Temple of 500 Sages,the Pure Fragrance House, the Imperial Stele Pavilion,the Pavilion Fronting Water, the Fish Watching Spot, the Water Pavilion of Lotus Fragrance,and the Prunus Mume pavilion.
The garden has altogether 20 different building, 22 plateaux and tablets, 23 parallel couplets,153 steles,and 12 such valuable old trees as gingo biloba L.,pterocarya stenoptera,celtis sinensis pers,camellia japenica L.,santalum album,chimonanthus praecox,etc., which fall into 10 catalogues,70 kinds of valuable cymbidium spp.,and 18 kinds of bambusoideae.