Long ago, in a beautiful Eastern kingdom, a queen and her people pleased their Gods by building a mystical pagoda. The pagoda housed the four Gods and towered strong over the magnificent kingdom. As time passed, the queen fell ill, and she summoned her people to compete for her crown. The crown would be passed on to the person who could build the most pristine garden around the pagoda. The heir would be chosen by the four Gods themselves.
The goal of Four Gardens is to accumulate the most points on the score board by completing landscape cards and finishing sets. Each finished set creates a panoramic view of a garden, and these sets are called (no surprise) "panoramas".
Players can finish panoramas by first laying groundwork cards, acquiring resources by turning the 3D pagoda, and allocating those resources to satisfy the requirements of each groundwork card. Once satisfied, a groundwork card becomes a landscape card. Multiple landscape cards laid in the correct order create a panorama. Each God has their own satisfaction meter which expresses their goodwill towards the gardens and their builders. Players try to please the Gods by completing landscape cards and finishing panoramas.
—description from the publisher