Garden Portrait: Harmony and Balance

It was hot. Very hot. I had just had lunch and a chin-wag with M-R in Pyrmont, a suburb of Sydney only a spit away from the Harbour Bridge. I wanted to return to the Chinese Garden of Friendship, an oasis in the heart of Darling Harbour which is predominantly restaurants and leisure facilities. I first visited this garden in 1998 when it was very new so I wanted to see how it had developed over the past 16 years.


The entrance to the garden is guarded by two Foo-dogs (Chinese lions) which have been carved from rare Chinese granite. Always in pairs the female with her cub guards to the left whilst the male, with a ball of chi (energy), guards to the right.


Once through the entrance you enter the Courtyard of Welcoming Fragrance and the Penjing exhibition, which means ‘tray scenery’ and demonstrates the art of creating a miniature landscape.

The garden is governed by Taoist principles of ‘Yin Yang’ and the five opposite elements – earth, fire, water, metal and wood. These principles also stress the importance of qi, the central force of life and energy. For me it was simply a joy to wander through the grounds and absorb the peace and tranquillity and shade provided by the pavilions, the black pine trees and the bamboo glades.

Commemorative Pavilion

You can enjoy panoramic views across the Lake of Brightness to distant pavilions and watch koi swim amidst the reflections of the still water. Β Groves of black bamboo evokes a Taoist retreat. Bamboo is a symbol of old age and humility. The sound of flowing water from the waterfall and cascades and the fragrance of white jasmine pervades the air and there are seats and benches where you can sit and relax and contemplate the beauty of the garden.

Featuring a traditional moongate the Pavilions amongst Bamboo and Rock is an intimate garden within a garden. Walls of bamboo and running water create a secret garden offering glimpses of the nearby lake and waterfall.

The Moongate

And at the garden’s highest point is a beautiful hexagonal, two-storey building – the Pavilion of Clear View, known as the Gurr. The golden roof tiles and intricate wood carvings are gifts from Guangdong.


Dragons, which can be seen throughout the garden occupy a very important place in Chinese mythology. They are seen as benevolent guardians and are associated with good fortune, so I felt very lucky indeed to see not one, but two beautiful Eastern Water Dragons whilst wandering around the garden.

The garden was initiated by the local Chinese community to celebrate Australia’s 1988 Bicentenary. It is a result of close friendship and cooperation between the sister cities of Sydney and Guangzhou in the Guangdong Province, China.

More lovely walks can be found over at my friendΒ Jo’s place.


23 Comments Add yours

  1. debandtoby says:

    Your blogs are always so beautiful.
    May I beg a favor of you? Would you follow my blog (Life, the Universe and Everything)? I haven’t been blogging very long, and am not on social media, so i’m begging for more followers. I hope there is something of interest to you there.
    Thank you.

  2. Sammy D. says:

    Oh Jude, what a gorgeous, tranquil place; I think I’d not be able to leave ! The vibrant color of the wood pillars is a rich contrast to the greenery.

    ‘chin wag’. – I wish I could speak Brit-ese πŸ’ž

    1. Heyjude says:

      It is quite a small garden and backed by huge apartment blocks, but when you are inside it feels very calm and peaceful and I spent ages just sitting and contemplating life.

      Don’t you Yanks have a chin wag then πŸ˜‰

      1. Sammy D. says:

        I think we ‘jaw bone’. 😊

        Denver’s Botanic Gardens also jut up against towering apartment buildings and busy streets, but as you say, it’s an interior peace and quietude once you enter the gardens.
        I am loving your variety of posts, and traveling vicariously with you.

        1. Heyjude says:

          ‘jaw bone’ is even weirder πŸ˜‰

  3. suej says:

    Looks a very peaceful place…. Thanks for the wander round πŸ˜€

    1. Heyjude says:

      Just found this in my spam folder! Now I wonder what you have been up to to end up in there? πŸ˜‰
      I think I fished you out recently too – how odd.

      1. suej says:

        Oh no…not again… This spam lark seems to be a very sporadic wordpress thing, a few of us have ended up in spam from time to time, in certain people’s accounts only…weird and annoying 😦

        1. Heyjude says:

          Odd indeed, especially as you have commented on my blog(s) before! I have fallen victim to it myself 😦

        2. suej says:

          I even got them to look into it, but said they couldn’t find a problem….. 😳

  4. restlessjo says:

    I’m feeling wonderfully tranquil now, Jude πŸ™‚ Especially love that Moongate shot. What a lovely place to just sit and be. And you know I don’t do that very often πŸ™‚
    Many thanks, hon. Happy 2015!

    1. Heyjude says:

      It was a nice spot on a hot day! And very few other people there too.

  5. Lucid Gypsy says:

    What an elegant, serene place, wonderful to visit but a bit too pristine for me to live with, how about you?

    1. Heyjude says:

      I like a bit more natural planting, but there is something very peaceful about this garden. I have often admired a Japanese style gravel garden, but not sure I’d have the patience to keep up with all the maintenance they must take. Be nice in a small courtyard perhaps (without the pavilions of course πŸ˜‰ )

  6. I’m seeing all the possible influences on your soon-to-be garden (2015?) it will be intriguing to see how they play out. I’ve rambled through the Chinese garden once, but may years ago. Another place you show me afresh.

    1. Heyjude says:

      I just hope I find the home and garden this year Meg, or I might just go a little stir-crazy!

  7. pommepal says:

    Another beautiful part of Sydney your camera has caught Jude. It is a lovely peaceful place and the couple of times I have been there I was always surprised at how few people were enjoying it.

    1. Heyjude says:

      I’m glad that hardly anyone visits, it is such a small place that it would become far from tranquil quite quickly.

  8. restlessjo says:

    No round up yet? Get a wiggle on! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ You must be too busy eating and drinking.
    Cheers! πŸ™‚

    1. Heyjude says:

      Oh, OK. I’ll publish it now and then go and open the bottle of fizz πŸ˜‰

      Cheers Jo!

  9. What a beautiful place Jude – I have never been to the Chinese Garden Of Friendship despite visiting Sydney a couple of times! I feel more relaxed just reading this post – it looks a wonderful peaceful oasis in a bustling city thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

    1. Heyjude says:

      It is worth a visit if you are back in the city again. It really does make you feel very calm.

  10. I must definitely go here the next time I visit Sydney. How beautiful.

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