XU ZHIMO MEMORIAL GARDEN
On the tenth of August 2018, King’s College Cambridge unveiled a memorial garden in it’s grounds to commemorate the celebrated Chinese poet Xu Zhimo. The opening took place during the fourth annual Cambridge Zhimo Poetry and Art Festival. Numerous poets from both China and England read their own works which followed the theme of ‘Birds and Gardens’. The opening was conducted by Tony Hsu, who is the son of Xu Zhimo. Xu had, for eighteen months in the early 1920s, been an associate member of Kings. Here he became acquainted with members of the Bloomsbury Group. Many of which became close friends and mentors to Xu in the years which followed. Cambridge greatly inspired Xu Zhimo’s works as a writer; his poem ‘Second Farewell to Cambridge’, is known by heart by many Chinese school children.
The garden, which took three years to finish, was the result of the vision of Senior Horticulturalist Steven Coghill. It will be the first Chinese garden created inside any of the Cambridge College grounds. It is located behind a memorial stone, installed in July 2008 in memory of Xu Zhimo. Carved into the stones white marble are the first and final two lines of ‘Second Farewell to Cambridge’. The garden itself is inspired by Taoist and Buddhist principles and features the traditional yin yang pattern. The new plants are predominantly chinese, native to the region of Haining, Xu’s home. They are integrated with the british species which surround the garden.
During the opening King's Fellow and Founder of the Cambridge Rivers Project, Alan MacFarlane, announced:
“The garden celebrates the shared culture of East and West. It is a fusion between philosophies and cultures, which contains special calligraphy by famous Chinese, including Mo Yan [author and winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature] illustrating the poem.”
As part of the opening, Xu Zhimo's grandson Dr Tony Hsu was presented with a limited edition pen designed by Onoto in commemoration of Xu's time at King's. The pens are available to purchase via the Shop at King’s and Onoto’s website. For each pen sold, Onoto will make a donation to support international graduate students at King’s.
Tickets to visit King’s College, including the garden are available here.