Today's Hours: Wednesday - Sunday 9:30am to 4pm (Last Entry 3:30pm) NOTE: CLOSED FOR FILM MARCH 4-9 | 578 Carrall Street Vancouver, British Columbia V6B 5K2 Canada

Penjing in the Garden

Penjing (盆景) is the ancient Chinese art of creating a miniature tree or a landscape in a container that is often part of a classical Chinese garden. Sometimes referred to as living sculptures, these carefully pruned trees capture the spirit of nature and distinguish themselves from ordinary potted plants.

Most of the Garden’s penjing were donated by Dr. Wu Yee-Sun, a Hong Kong billionaire and world-famous penjing master. Here are some of the penjing that you may come across when visiting the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden during the summer months:

 

九里香 Orange Jasmine – Murraya Paniculata
(Rutaceae or Rue Family)

Style: Branch-drooping, Lingnan School

Estimate Age: 145+ years

 

Orange Jasmine, Orange Jessamine, Chinese Box, Mock Orange, Mock Lime, Satinwood or Lakeview Jasmine are the other common names of Chinese Box Jasmine.

A subtropical evergreen shrub or small tree growing up to 12 feet (3.65 meters) in height native to Southeast Asia and Malaysia. The species is widely grown as an ornamental tree or hedge. Murraya is closely related to Citrus and bears small white flowers followed by small orange to red fruit resembling kumquats, though some cultivars do not set fruit. The rectangular pot is made of marble.

 

 


九里香 Orange Jasmine – Murraya Paniculata
(Rutaceae or Rue Family)

Style: Semi-Cascading, Lingnan School

Estimate Age: 145+ years

 

A subtropical evergreen shrub or small tree growing up to 12 feet in height native to Southeast Asia and Malaysia. Known also as the Saintwood or Chinese box, it has fragrant white flowers and small red berries.

The Jasmine flower can be used as an ingredient in perfumes and tea. The commercialized production of the flower started in the mid-19th century in eastern China, Fujian Province. In the 20th century, Jasmine tea became very popular in China as it was said to help people relax. Its leaves and roots are used in traditional medicine to treat various ailments. 

This hexagonal Yixing unglazed earthenware from China depicts bats, butterflies, and flowers. The significance of bats in Feng Shui and Chinese culture is both intriguing and significant. As they are connected to luck, wealth, and happiness, bats are frequently used in Feng Shui to bring luck and good fortune.

 


九里香 Orange Jasmine – Murraya Paniculata
(Rutaceae or Rue Family)

Style: Twin Trunk, Lingnan School

Estimate Age: 130+ years

 

A subtropical evergreen shrub or small tree growing up to 12 feet in height native to Southeast Asia and Malaysia. The distribution area extends from Pakistan via India and southern China to Taiwan, the Philippines, the Ryūkyū Islands (Japan) and the Mariana Islands; and to the south via Malaysia and Indonesia to New Guinea and parts of Australia. It is now naturalized in other tropical areas, as well as in the southern United States.

Known also as the Saintwood or Chinese box, it has fragrant white flowers and small red berries. The flowers bloom throughout the year at the end of all the branches. They are small, in cream colour, and very fragrant. The petals can be 12-18 mm long. The fruits are oval, reddish-orange, and 1-inch in length. The pot is a rectangular glazed ceramic of the Shiwan variety.

 


羅漢松 Buddhist Pine – Podocarpus Macrophyllus
(Podocarpaceae Family)

Style: Informal Upright, Lingnan School

Estimated Age: 150+ years

 

This is an evergreen coniferous tree native to southwestern China and Japan, with other common names such as Southern Yew or Japanese Yew. It can be kept indoors all year round, but it benefits from being outside during the Summer in a semi-shaded place. In the Fall and Winter when the temperature drops, it must be protected from frost and be kept indoors. In the Spring, it can only be placed outside when there is no night frost anymore.

The Buddhist Pine can be found in nature in China and Japan. It can grow in the mountains up to a height of 1000m. The trees grown in nature could withstand light frosts and can reach up to 20m (65 Ft) high but usually remains smaller. The Chinese name suggests that this tree is sacred to the Buddhist religion. It is a very popular tree with penjing enthusiasts in China. This particular penjing is female and produces purple berry-like fruit in the springtime. The rectangular pot is made of white marble.

 


榕樹 Indian Laurel or Chinese Banyan Tree – Ficus Retusa
(Moraceae or Mulberry Family)

Style: Old Tree, Lingnan School

Estimate Age: 150+ years

 

A native to Malaysia and Southern China, this tropical evergreen plant has aerial roots and can grow to over 40 feet tall. This plant is excellent for penjing since it can be sculpted into many shapes. The Chinese Banyan is one the finest trees for indoor penjing and tolerates a wide range of indoor conditions. It has good bonsai character, lovely gray bark, and superb basal root flare. It tolerates the beginner’s efforts and still makes a superb addition to the advanced penjing grower’s collection. The octagonal stoneware pot with medium green Celadon glaze is of Shiwan variety and dates back to 1875.

 

 

 


榕樹 Indian Laurel or Chinese Banyan Tree – Ficus Retusa
(Moraceae or Mulberry Family)

Style: Rock Clinging, Lingnan School

Estimate Age: 65+ years

 

A native to Malaysia and Southern China, the tropical evergreen plant has aerial roots and can grow to over 40 feet tall. This is a plant that naturally thrives in moist, humid climates. In ideal moisture conditions, it would even send out aerial roots, taking on a look similar to that of the banyan tree. It also goes by the name “Chinese banyan tree” to prove the point. This plant is excellent for penjing since it can be sculpted into many shapes.

The rectangular pot is Yixing unglazed brown earthenware. Yixing is located in the southern Jiangsu province of China. Being a part of the Yangtze River Delta, it has been named the pottery capital of China and the birthplace of Yixing clay, creating the most exquisite bonsai planters. During the Song Dynasty Era (960-1279), this special purple sand (zisha) clay was first mined around Lake Taihu and originally utilized for tea and penjing pots.

 


九里香 Orange Jasmine – Murraya Paniculata
(Rutaceae or Rue Family)

Style: Twin Trunk, Lingnan School

Estimate Age: 150+ years

 

A subtropical evergreen shrub or small tree growing up to 12 feet in height native to Southeast Asia and Malaysia. Known also as the Saintwood or Chinese box, it has fragrant white flowers and small red berries. The rectangular pot is a green Celadon glazed ceramic of the Shiwan variety. The Shiwan area, Shiwanzhen Subdistrict of the provincial city of Foshan, near Guangzhou, Guangdong, is an essential base for Chinese ceramic traditions.

The history of Shiwan ceramics can be traced back to the Neolithic era; it was fully developed during the Tang Dynasty and flourished in the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Shiwan craftsmen are well-known for their glazing techniques, unique forms and all hand-formed.