Garden of Time
2017 ongoing, Beijing, China

As part of the Beijing International Horticultural Exposition 2019, West 8's ‘Garden of Time’ is a symbolic journey of life: disconnected from the surroundings, visitors will be led by a narrow descending path connecting through a sequence of rooms. Each has its unique atmosphere created by different usage of materials, plants, colours and most importantly, each of these rooms provides visitors a different perspective. The journey of life ends in a moment of reflection.

Upon entering the narrow path, the visitors’ common notions of scale will immediately be challenged by the frenetic scale created by giant rough tree trunks with their enormous heights. This path winds downwards, continuously changing direction and trajectory. Here is serenity, is enclosure, is mystery. The visitor cannot determine the path’s destination until they have reached it, namely the first courtyard.

Visitors reach the first garden - The Garden of Short Youth. This garden is bursting with white and pink flowers across all seasons. A mix of wild flowers and fruit trees creates a vibrant sensory experience. This garden symbolises childhood and the juvenile years in life: full of ideas and new elements to be discovered, full of life and fertility. This garden changes in colours, textures and smells across every season, symbolizing the frequent changes experienced during this phase of life. 

After crossing the garden the visitor is led once again along a sequence of pathways. The trunks surrounding the path are now more than 12 meters high. The visitor still descends down – these trunks create more shade and the path appears to get narrower.

Visitors reach the second garden – The Garden of High Clouds. The dense planting is reminiscent of a forest – arrays of shade tolerant groundcovers plants creating a thick lush green carpet, where Ferns and mosses dominate the palette. The high pine trees will have branching only in the upper part that form a spectacular cathedral-like space.  This garden symbolises an individual’s maturity in life: one’s character becomes calmer and is quite literally grown up while sentimentally more introvert and the range of impressions is richer.

The last sequence of the path leads the visitor even further down. The height of the tree trunks almost completely blocks out the sunlight. The structure of the path keeps changing and finally climaxes in a circular descent.

The visitor reaches the third garden – The Mirror Pond. In this garden, the narrowest of all the patios, the view is completely focused on a concentric pond that reflects the sky above. When looking upwards, only a circular opening to the sky will be visible – the 18m tall trunks spectacularly frame this view shaft. This garden symbolises the last phase of a person’s life: a period full of experiences, rich of memories and at peace with the inner self. The end of the journey here is ultimately a moment of reflection.

Beijing Forestry University, Landscape Architecture Jounal China (北京林业大学、《风景园林》杂志社)
Adriaan Geuze, Christian Dobrick, Yichun He, Alberto Gonzalez-Garces, Anni Lei, Perry Maas