What is the importance of flowers in Chinese gardens, and why?

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While Western gardens might include floral selections that embody a particular aesthetic beauty, classical Chinese gardens are designed based on the symbolic meanings of plants and reflect the gardener or resident's spiritual pursuits and personality.

Plum blossoms, for example, are often seen as a symbolic representation of a strong and persevering spirit; the plum blossom does not wither during the winter. Because bamboo bends but does not break in the wind, it often symbolizes tolerance and integrity, where one can yield without breaking. Orchids, with their tender and elegant blooms, are symbolic of beauty and gentleness. Cypress trees, which can easily survive for several centuries, represent longevity. Even the symbolic meaning of the materials used to construct the barriers of the garden are given consideration. For example, materials might be chosen because they collect water, which symbolizes intelligence or wealth. A willow tree might be chosen because it is seen as the wind's messenger.

Plants and gardening materials are carefully selected to reveal an individual's philosophies, and they are also chosen for their abilities to create spaces that balance humanity's world with the natural world.

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