I recently experienced a change of attitude toward the Suzhou Gardens, which, in my much younger days, I deemed artificial and pretentious. I had especially loathed the Bonzai displays, which were copied in all kinds of gardens all over China. I thought the idea of confinement and shaping plant branches into miniature landcapes in pots is so sickly against nature.
When I was in Suzhou gardens late September this year, I was caught by surprise when I realized that I was enjoying the whole Suzhou garden experience with the Bonzai diplays and started to appreciate their uniquely east-Asian beauty with imbedded intellectual ideals. Age is not necessarily a bad thing, and the trick is to keep the curiosity growing with capacity to understand.
The best way to see a Suzhou garden though is to go on a slightly drizzling day in early morning, when one catches the atmosphere fully before the crowds and noise hit the ground.