Xu Garden (Chinese: 煦园; pinyin: Xù Yuán), also called '"Xi Hua Yuan"' (西花园), or literally, "West Flower Garden", is a famed classical garden in South China. Together with "Zhan Yuan" (瞻园), they are called two prominent gardens in Jinling (alternate name for Nanjing). It is located on 292 Changjiang Rd., in Xuanwu District of Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, west side of Heavenly King Palace Relic of Taiping Kingdom. It is incorporated into the Presidential Palace.
In Hongwu 1st year (1368), Taizu Zhu Yuanzhang (朱元璋) of Ming Dynasty received the disciples of his opponent, Chen Youliang (陈友谅). He built a "Han King Palace" for Chen Youliang's son, Chen Li. Later, Ming Chengzu made his second son, Zhu Gaoxu (朱高煦), Han King, and awarded him the eastern part of old Han King Palace as the New Han King Palace. This garden was the western garden of the new palace, and was named "Xu Yuan" after its owner's name, "Zhu Gaoxu".
Qing Dynasty established government building for governor general of Two-Jiang (in charge of Jiangsu, Anhui and Jiangxi) here. Its east side lied Jiangning Zhizhao government (in charge of clothes and silk production). Xu Yuan became the garden of house for governor general. From Kangxi 23rd-41st year (1684-1702), the emperor Kangxi visited South China six times. He stopped by Jiangning Zhizhao government for five times. During Taiping era, the garden was expanded when building Heavenly King Palace, and it became the imperial garden of the palace. Because the garden was located on western side of the palace, it was named "West Flower Garden", distinguishing from "East Flower Garden". At the time when the city was conquered by army of Qing Dynasty, the garden was ruined by the war. During Qing Daoguang's years (1821-1851), Zeng Guofan rebuilt it.
On 1 January 1912, Sun Yat-sen was inaugurated as the "Temporary Grand President" in the Warm Pavilion of Xu Yuan, thus claiming the establishment of the temporary government of the Republic of China. Sun's temporary president's office as well as his home was located inside Xu Yuan. From then on, Nanjing acting government, Jiangsu government, and military commander all used to set up offices there. After the government of the Republic of China was founded in April 1927, the headquarters of National People's Revolution Army, Military Commission, and Military Bureau of President House all used to establish offices there. Therefore, Xu Yuan was regarded as "Resort of Four Dynasties".
Inside Xu Garden, there is a 14.5-meter-long timber-mimic stony boat, built by gray stones. Now it is the symbol of the garden. Emperor Qianlong used to write "Bu Ji Zhou" (不系舟), or "unmoored boat" for it.
Xu Garden has an artificial hillock, called "South Rockery", made of rocks resembling 12 Chinese zodiac animals. Among the hillock there is a Hexagonal Pavilion. From afar it looks like an overlapping of two pavilions, but a closer look sees an integrated body. It was called "Mandarin Duck Pavilion", because those duck always appear in pairs.
"Tong Yin Guan" (桐音馆), or "Paulownia Melody House" is the largest building in the garden, built by paulownia timber. It was used as Zeng Guofan's reception hall. Several huge Chinese parasol trees are planted around the house. When rains fall on the trees, the mellifluous sounds resonated. Behind the house lies "North Rockery". There're caves inside the hillocks and they are interconnected, like a maze. Beside it is a stone tablet, on which Emperor Daoguang's handwriting "Heart Stamping Stony House" (印心石室) is engraved.
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