China Garden breaks ground in DC — finally
After more than a decade in the planning, ground was finally broken on what will be the largest Chinese garden in North America. The ceremony took place on Oct 28 inside the US National Arboretum in Washington, less than 3 miles from Capitol Hill.
The China Garden, a joint project by the US Department of Agriculture and China’s State Forestry Administration, started as early as October 2004 when the two governments signed a memorandum of understanding for the project.
Jiang Zehui, the Chinese executive director for the project and now also vice-chair of the Committee of Population, Resources and Environment of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), was one of the signatories of the original MOU.
“The ground-breaking ceremony today for the China Garden by the Chinese and US sides signals that a 12-year dream will come true,” she said on Friday.
The 12-acre China Garden in the heart of the National Arboretum will incorporate the best parts of Chinese gardens in China, including the Mountain House of Sliced Stone, Boat Hall, Geyuan Garden, Five-Pavilion Bridge and White Pagoda in Yangzhou and Fish Viewing at Flower Harbor in Hangzhou’s West Lake.
President Xi Jinping and US President Barack Obama approved the October ground breaking when they met in Hangzhou in early September at the G20 Summit.
The ceremony at the arboretum took place on a sunny and breezy Friday afternoon and was attended by some 100 people from both the Chinese and US sides, including many who had flown in from China.
Zhang Jianlong, head of China’s State Forestry Administration, described the China Garden as bearing the friendship of 1.3 billion Chinese towards the American people.
Chinese Ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai said that upon completion, the China Garden will become a new landmark in Washington and the East Coast. “It will build a unique bridge between the two peoples and inject new vitality into building a new model of great power relationship,” he said.
US Undersecretary of State Catherine Novelli said the China Garden will be essential for people to learn more about Chinese culture. “It will give researchers new insights into Asian gardens and plants, and will foster closer cooperation and mutual understanding among cultural institutions, representatives and scholars,” she said.
Novelli said the garden will enable visitors and tourists to experience the exquisite beauty and symbolism of Chinese gardens, such as how the peony garden represents prosperity and beauty, how bamboo represents wisdom and how the arrangement of rocks can symbolize beauty, virtue and endurance.
Samuel Mok, president of National China Garden Foundation (far left); Catherine Novelli, US undersecretary of state (fourth from left); Catherine Woteki, undersecretary and chief scientist of USDA (fifth from left); State Forestry Administration Director Zhang Jianlong (seventh from left); Chinese Ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai (eighth from left); and others attend a groundbreaking ceremony on Friday afternoon for the China Garden in the US National Arboretum in Washington.
A display map of the China Garden, situated on 12 acres in the heart of the US National Arboretum in Washington. Based on an original design from a team of Chinese designers, the China Garden, offers an extraordinary opportunity to build a lasting tribute to US-China relations in the capital.