Gardens of Harmonious Contemplation

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The Gardens of Harmonious Contemplation, also known as the Ten Thousand Delights of the Butterfly, is considered one of the Twelve Marvels Under Heaven. They were built by Butterfly King Ti Hsu over four hundred winters past. The official court history reports that they were constructed for Ti Hsu's gravely ill wife Ti Ling, on the advice of the royal seer, and that as the Gardens were planted Ti Ling recovered. Ti Ling had borne no heirs before falling ill, but in the years after the Gardens were completed she bore three successive sons. Seven generations later, during the War of the Admiral's Head, Shrouded Isle soldiers burned a large section of the Gardens. Reputedly the king's wife, Ti Lu, was stricken with a near-fatal illness, and only recovered after the Shrouded Isle soldiers were defeated and the garden was replanted.

The Gardens are built in five circular tiers, with sections for plants native to all of the Twelve Kingdoms. As the climate in the Butterfly Kingdom is quite different from that of some of the other kingdoms, special measures are taken to allow those plants to thrive. Underneath the gardens are a network of stone passageways connecting several large stone chambers. In the chambers below sections devoted to plants from colder climates, gardeners continually replenish large blocks of ice that are hoisted into cavities in the ceiling where they chill the soil above. Similarly, constructions employing tarred bundles of reeds and thousands of clay bricks as well as a hidden irrigation system are in place to regulate the moisture content of the soil to better simulate the conditions in arid or marshy lands.

Within the gardens there are many carefully placed benches and gazebos, positioned for ideally serene and balanced perspectives. In some places a visitor can sit for hours and be so entranced that he may believe that it has been mere minutes, while in others the view is so peaceful that a few minutes of contemplation are as restful and restorative as nine hours sleep.

Upon the highest of the tiers is the Pavilion of Selfless Design.