It is commonly held today that Chinese gardening is an extinct art form. The logic behind this thought is based on two facts. First, an art form that requires three centuries to come to fruition is simply not possible where property ownership is only on a lease basis, with leases being measured in decades rather than centuries. However, this line of thinking overlooks the point that many classical gardens—including four of the five that remain in Shanghai—were publicly-owned sites. Each of the four in Shanghai functioned for a time as its respective City God Temple grounds, and Qushui Yuan was never privately owned, having been a part of the temple compound from the beginning. This fact alone challenges the assumption that private ownership is a necessary prerequisite for the development of a classical Jiangnan-style garden. History has already proven that public funding and maintenance can initiate and sustain the development of a public garden.
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