Right, so if it weren't for the Master Gardens, the Xi'an Horticultural Expo 2011 would have been a complete bust. There was a special magazine that was released prior to the Expo detailing all of the projects and which acted as our guidebook. I do not have access to this guidebook but I can ask for the specifics and will post a link or otherwise an update when I do have this information. In the meantime, I've taken the time to transcribe each of the garden's sign posts. In the image above, most of the Master Gardens are located there, with the illustrations corresponding to roughly the real thing. You'll see once you see the photos. There were also the "Student Gardens", just west of the main axis but we'll get to them last, as that's how we traveled the expo site.
Area: 1,000 sq meters
Design Theme: Being with Nature
Introduction: The Garden with a Labyrinth of Mountainous Paths is designed by Benedetta Tagliabue, one of the founders of the new and prominent Spanish architecture firm EMBT. The garden is named in honor of nature. Such an inspiration comes from Chinese landscape painting. It is untraditionally imbued with rich local features. It is constructed with the vibrant colors of an oil painting and ideas from the modern deconstructionalism. As all the construction materials are natural and the manufactured landscapes in the garden embody Nature's best. Once entering the garden, the visitors can smell the fragance of the pines, cypresses, shrubs and flowers and also touch the veins of the stones, helping the visitors connect with Nature.
It was hard to imagine that this garden was truly 1,000 square meters because it felt, at most, half that. But the ambiance and presence of the site structures suited the design concept of a mountain oil painting: the lattice arbor overhead contributed soft shadows, the bundled bamboo presented a solid yet permeable barrier, the overall layering of bamboo construction seem to invoke layers of oil paint, and there the entire garden seemed to be treated as a series of rooms, which, many landscape designers may aspire to, but few succeed.
Here Amy got trapped in one of the bird(?) cages. Not sure if that's what their purpose was, but the lack of shouting guards here was a relief. Almost all of the Master Gardens were comparatively quiet, but that was a very good thing to get away from the crowds. By the end of the day, I would rate this garden as my second favorite.