This is situated in the north-east of Suzhou. It occupies 1.1 hectares, with an open area 0.88 hectare; it is rectangular in shape with its length stretching from east to west. A high wall surrrounds it; there are also numerous corridors around the garden. In the middle part a pond forms its centre. Piling of rocks, building of houses, planting of flowers and trees, streching of bridges and construction of pavilions comprise the garden’s layout and give an artistic conception of mountains and trees being close by.
This garden was built for the Tianru monk Weize by his disciples in the second year of the Yuan dynasty’s Zhizheng period (1342 A.D.). During early times it was called Lion Forest Temple; later its name was changed to Puti Zhengzong Temple and then to Sheng’en Temple. The monk Weize wrote a collection of poetry called “14 poems of the Lion Forest Garden sceneries”. He described the garden’s scenery and the circumstanzes of life. The famous writer and painter Ni Yunlin of the Ming dynasty took part in the garden’s construction; he wrote poetry and painted, thus adding to the fame of the Lion Forest Garden. It became a place for buddhist teaching and for scholars to write poetry and paint.
The garden has seen both splendour and decay; temple, garden and residence have been divided and then united, and traditional garden construction methods and buddhist thinking have amalgamated, so that the Bei family of recent times has taken western garden construction methods and home temples as part of the garden, forming a temple garden of religious principles and garden joy.
The mountains of the Lion Forest Garden are not high, but contain many cavities, some high up, giving the feeling of magnificence. The ponds are not deep, but has multi-layered, curving edges and many waterfalls next to flower beds, and many old, famous trees of beautiful appearance. Halls, buildings and pavilions are even more refined; it is truly a famous garden of the middle Wu Kingdom.