How Does Bao Family’s Garden(鲍家花园) Come Into Being?

Bao Family’s Garden was originally a private garden of Bao Qiyun, a wealthy salt merchant and official in Qianlong Period(A.D. 1736-1796) and Jiaqing Period(A.D. 1796-1820). As Anhui is near to Zhejiang and Jiangsu, the major salt-producing areas, the industrious Anhui merchants took the great opportunity and made a big fortune in salt business. Therefore, they usually spent much money in house and garden constructions. That was how Bao Family’s Garden came into being.

It is a classic Chinese private garden which combines ancient Hui-style garden with Hui-style bonsai. Anhui is endowed with beautiful scenery in nature. In ancient times, Anhui rich people liked to build gardens in their houses and integrated the gardens into the natural environment, taking the mountains, rivers, ponds, strange stones as their natural decoration. At that time, Bao Family’s Garden is one of the “3 Great Private Gardens in Southern China” (the other two are Humble Administrator’s Garden in Suzhou and Li Garden in Wuxi). However, it was destroyed in the war with Taiping Heavenly Kingdom(A.D. 1851-1864) in the late Qing Dynasty. At the end of the Qing Dynasty, when the last merchant of the Bao family, Bao Jingqing, came back home from Yangzhou, both the family and the garden had lost their old glories. Bao Jingqing had to sell the garden to make ends meet.

In the past over 200 years, Bao Family’s Garden has seen its rise and fall with the prosperity and depression of the family Bao and the country. It has no choice but to take whatever its fate may bring. What a pity it would be if the garden fell into decay as time passed by! Fortunately, in 2000, Mr. Li Jian, a Huizhou native, decided to restore the largest private garden in China and regain its long-standing fame after visiting Bao Family’s Garden. Now Bao Family’s Garden has become the best bonsai appreciation place in China.

What to See in Bao Family’s Garden

Bao Family’s Garden originates from Hui culture, but it is so much more than that now. After restoration, Bao Family’s Garden is a combination of the authentic Hui-style garden and a bonsai appreciation spot with unparalleled charm.

Treasure of Bao Family’s Garden – South China Beauty(南国风情)

"South China Beauty" is as tall as 1.28m with a crown of 2.8m. It enjoys a history of more than 200 years and is currently one of the largest ancient banyan bonsai in China. Although it is not the largest bonsai in Bao Family’s Garden, it is absolutely the most noticeable one. The “South China Beauty” is primitive and upright with a singular shape. After 200 years’ vicissitudes, it is still luxuriant and vigorous. The green leaves shine bright like dazzling jades in the sunlight. Its main roots spread out and go deep into the earth like a strong dragon claw.

“South China Beauty” is a gift from Emperor Qianlong to the the owner of Bao Family’s Garden, Bao Qiyun. In late Qing dynasty(A.D. 1644-1911), it was robbed by a Taiping Heavenly Kingdom troop leader, but Zeng Guofan (a statesman and military general of the late Qing dynasty) took it back a few days later. Knowing the bonsai is quite valuable, Zeng Guofan agreed to return it back on condition that Bao Jingqing (the garden owner at that time) sponsored the army with 200,000 silver kuping taels (worth about $5 million US Dollars in 2015). Bao paid the money and Zeng kept his words. However, not before long, Bao’s good-for-nothing son sold the bonsai and squandered the money. The “South China Beauty” has been away from home since then until the present owner of the garden Li Jian bought it back. Finally the “South China Beauty” has returned to where it belongs and become the treasure of Bao Family’s Garden.

It not only represents unique artistic ingenuity, but also witnesses the great changes of China. Braving all adversities, "South China Beauty" thrives defiantly.

Bao Family’s Garden South China Beauty
Bao Family’s Garden Bonsai in the Garden

Other Bonsai Landscapes in Bao Family's Garden

Bao’s Family Garden is mainly divided into two parts. There is a lake covering an area of 5.3 hectares with bridges and pavilions where you can have a boat trip and appreciate the lovely fish. The other 20 hectares are covered by grassland, ornamental trees and thousands of bonsai. Hui-style bonsai has long been famous for its unique artistic style featuring in simplicity, peculiarity, and vigorousness. Therefore, most of the bonsai in the garden are woody plants with twisted branches and strange stumps. The small and delicate plants also add extra beauty to the garden. All bonsai and plants are top-grade species with extraordinary momentum and decent aesthetic taste. The large themed bonsai “What a Great World”(江山如此多娇) is 20 meters in length and 3 meters in width. The strange rockeries, green grass, clear streams, pools, water falls and pavilions are presented interactively, exhibiting a both magnificent and delicate landscape of our country.

Bao Family’s Garden, the largest garden with the best bonsai both in diversity and number, offers us an opportunity to have a good look at the prestigious Hui-style garden in China’s history.

How to Get to Bao Family’s Garden

Bao Family’s Garden lies about 25km to the north of Huangshan City. There are no flights or trains to get there, therefore, you need to get to Huangshan City first and then transfer to the garden. You can buy bus tickets and check the latest timetable (not fixed) at Huangshan Bus Station (Tunxi). But usually there are no direct buses. You need to take a bus to She County first and then go to Bao Family’s Garden, which is kind of inconvenient and time-consuming.

Or you can travel with us to save all the troubles. We will provide you with cosy vehicles, professional guides and drivers. It will only take 40 minutes to drive to Bao Family's Garden from Huangshan City. What’s more, all the pick-up and drop-off services in the trip are included. It is very convenient if you want to travel somewhere nearby. For more details, please feel free to contact us.

Huangshan to Bao Family's Garden Map Bao Family's Garden (Tangyue) to Huangshan City

Best Time to Go

The Bao Family’s Garden is open to visitors all year round. As most bonsai and plants there are evergreen, you can appreciate their beauty in all four seasons. Its annual average temperature is about 16°C. The hottest day can reach 40°C in August and the coldest (-6°C) is usually in January. Therefore, the best time to go is in the mild spring from March to May and the cool autumn from September to November.

Nearby Attractions

A half day is usually sufficient to well explore the Bao Family’s Garden and Tangyue Memorial Archways, which is only 10 minutes’ walk away.

If you want to enrich your trip, here are some attractions nearby you can choose. Huizhou Ancient City, about 10km to the east of the garden, is a well-preserved ancient city built 2200 years ago. Or you can drive west for about 10 minutes to get to Tangmo Ancient Village. Here you can see the best Shuikou Garden in China. Then keep driving west for another 10 minutes to Qiankou Ancient Residential Houses. It is a traditional Hui-style architecture complex built in the Ming Dynasty(1368-1644). After that, drive northwards for about 15 minutes, then you will get to Chengkan Ancient Village, a village built totally according to Feng Shui theory with the best-preserved architectures in the Ming Dynasty. A package ticket for all the scenic spots is CNY 220 yuan per person, which will save you about 200 yuan compared to buying the tickets separately. The package ticket is valid for two days.

If you want to travel somewhere farther, the famous UNESCO World Heritage Site Huangshan Mountain(1.5 hours' drive) and the picturesque Hongcun Ancient Village(about 2 hours' drive) are also ideal options.

If you do not know how to schedule your trip, here is a classic 4 Days Huangshan to Huizhou Culture Exploration tour that covers most of the attractions mentioned above for your reference. We are specialized in customized trips. If you are not satisfied with the plan, please send us your needs and requirements and we will offer you a personal tailor-made trip!

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