Located in the Tongli Water Town Suzhou, the Tuisi Garden (Retreat and Reflection Garden) is a classic architectural example of the south region of the Yangtze River. It was firstly built in the Qing Dynasty from 1885 to 1887. The original owner of the Tuisi Garden, Ren Lansheng built this private garden when he was dismissed from the officialdom and returned to his native. It is reputed as a natural museum to learn the lifestyle and the architectural features of ancient China nearly two centuries ago.
The name of the garden comes from a saying “Be Loyal to the emperor when serving the court; reflect oneself when retreated from the position” in ancient China.
Covering around 2800 square meters, the layout of the site is horizontal, containing the main cottage, courtyards, and garden from west to east. The courtyard in the middle is a natural transition between the residence and garden. The garden occupies more than half of the entire site. The lotus pond is the center surrounded by rockery, pavilion, porch, flowers, and trees.
The garden is a typical late Qing Dynasty style which is simple but elegant. All the buildings are situated close to the water thus the site is also reputed as the Waterside Garden.
The designer of Tuisi Garden is the famous garden designer Yuan Long who integrated elements of four seasons and four traditional arts (lyre-playing, chess, calligraphy, and painting) into the interior and outdoor decoration and design.
The visitors could not miss the stone inscription displayed in the back hall of the Tuisi Garden. The precious stele was “homeward bound” written y Zhao Meng, a famous calligrapher, and painter in Yuan Dynasty about 700 years ago. Some characters of the original script were damaged thus the Tuisi Garden only preserves and displays the intact part.