Missouri Botanical Garden

Chinese Garden Tour

The Moon Gate

Moon Gate

A traditional circular entrance, or moon gate, creates the sense of entering a special place. The circle is a symbol of perfection to the Chinese, who have a saying, "Flowers are beautiful when the moon is full."

Plaque Over the Moon Gate is a traditional fan-shaped stone plaque carved with the characters "Yu Ning Yuan," literally "Friendship Nanjing Garden." The characters were drawn by Liu Hai-su, a famed Chinese calligrapher who died at the age of 100, the day after completing the lettering for this garden.

Tall stones

A group of tall, narrow stones beside the entrance represents a grove of bamboo. The play of light and shadow on the white walls can make them seem almost transparent; the undulating roof line resembles a range of distant mountains in the background. Tiles along the wall display the Missouri Botanical Garden logo. Traditionally, Chinese gardens are completely surrounded by walls. Here, screens of plantings on two sides enclose the garden while integrating it with the site.

Inside, the narrow entrance opens out to reveal the central pool and pavilion area, the spiritual heart of the garden, suggesting ancient associations with entering the magical realms of the Immortals. The path is decorated with lovely handmade mosaics of colorful pebbles from China. The motifs depict plum blossoms, peonies, and birds, with a yin/yang symbol where the path divides.

Mosaic Mosaic Mosaic

An Ancient Tradition
A Frame and a Focus
Mountains and Water
Plants as Symbols

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