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Call of the wild

The site of an abandoned mine on a mountainside near Hangzhou has been transformed into a garden, Xu Haoyu reports.

By Xu Haoyu | China Daily | Updated: 2023-12-16 12:41
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Shan Shan Garden, located in the outskirts of Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, boasts stunning views of mountains and forests. Four designers spent years transforming it from a wasteland into an inviting garden retreat.[Photo provided to China Daily]

In Hangzhou's Xihu district, nestled among the mountains, lies a unique garden. This site, once an abandoned mine spanning about 10,000 square meters, was discovered in 2019 by landscape designers Yu Weizeng and Chai Rong. Captivated by its potential, they, along with two partners, decided to lease the area and transform it into a garden studio.

Yu and Chai share a deep passion for nature, a longing for the beauty of mountains and water, and a love for life itself.

Their vision was not merely to create a functional workspace. Instead, they aspired to establish a vast courtyard within the mountains, crafting a garden that embodies the essence of the natural landscape.

"On fine days, we set up tents outside for camping together with friends. Gathering around a huge rock, we enjoy simple pleasures such as drinking coffee and playing the guitar. On rainy days, the sound of raindrops pattering against the surface of the pool creates a serene ambience. During full moon nights, we lie on the rocks, basking in the moonlight," Yu says.

Before the birth of this sanctuary in the mountains, called Shan Shan Garden — shan means mountain in Chinese — the team had already invested a year of hard work and dedication into creating a beautiful garden on another site. However, due to regulatory changes, their initial creation was dismantled.

According to Yu, searching for a new site, the team embarked on an exhaustive exploration of Hangzhou's outskirts.

Their persistence paid off when they stumbled upon a neglected site with over 500 square meters of built-up area. However, it was not in a perfect condition.

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