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05 May 2017 @ 11:13 am
A Chinese Garden in Oregon  
Place: Lan Su Chinese Garden, Portland, Oregon
Date: April 30, 2017
Weather: Partly cloudy and chilly, but no rain
Click through to Flickr for larger versions of the photos.

I went sighseeing in Portland, Oregon and my first stop was the Chinese Garden. It was a very pleasant surprise. Here is a representative gate by the entrance.
Enjoying the Chinese Garden. #pdx

The garden is only 1 acre. It takes up exactly one city block in the Chinese part of Portland. That means that office buildings form a second, higher, wall around the garden in many places. This is a typical example. You can also see water in this shot. That's because most of the acre is taken up by a large pond. This rock is near the entrance.
Picturesque rock with Chinese inscription. #pdx

This is Podophyllum pleianthum, Chinese May Apple. The leaves are very large and look as if they're made of plastic. The brown flowers beneath the leaves seemed to attract flies.
Anybody know what this is? The brown things are flowers.

In the bathroom, there was a miniature kimono on the wall.
It's a baby 👶 kimono. #pdx

The garden and buildings are meant to show the family compound of a wealthy 16th century family in Suzhou, Jiangsu province. One of the first buildings you get to is the Lounge House. This is where the family would gather to socialize. Naturally their ancestors are invited too. This brass Kwan Yin statue was on the ancestor altar there.
Kwan Yin on an ancestor altar. #pdx

The next part of the compound is the Scholar's Study and garden. The scholar cultivates bonsai, of course.
Bonsai display. #pdx
Peonies have been cultivated for millennia in China. Isn't this lovely?

The spring plant guide on the Lan Su web site tells me that this is Iris confusa 'Martyn Rix' in the Scholar's garden. The flowers have a very pleasing, airy habit.
Irises in the Scholar's garden.

Looking back through the moon gate at the bonsai display in the outer courtyard of the Scholar's garden. There are no flowers in this picture, but it's still a wonderfully tranquil setting. This type of garden is all about controling your view. At every turn, it conceals much more than it reveals. This is the opposite of what was popular in Europe at the time. Wealthy Europeans wanted to impress you with the vastness of their baroque gardens.
Moongate. #pdx

Inside the scholar's study, there is of course a desk with brushes for calligraphy. This is where the young men of the family would study for civil service exams. Being in civil service was the path to prosperity in ancient China.
The scholar's table. #pdx
Opposite the desk, there's a table with a tea service, in case the scholar gets visitors.
Tea for two. #pdx
The house behind this tree is used for business by the women in the family. From here they can look out over the garden and toward the city on the other side. The tree is a katsura, Cercidphyllum japonicum. I love its weeping habit.
Wonderful weeping tree in front of the Tower of Cosmic Reflections. #pdx

Looking across the pond, we see a building with the poetic name Painted Boat in Misty Rain, which is used as a restaurant.
The building across the pond is called Painted Boat in Misty Rain. #pdx

There were many beautiful details in the garden. It takes a lot of skill to create pleasing effects both on a grand scale, like the view across the pond above, and on the much more intimate scale of these roof bosses.
Roof detail.

An exit to the street is very simple and controlled. Austere, even. But the little tree in its unadorned container prevents the scene from being sterile and uninviting.
Bold simplicity. #pdx
A zig-zag path leads across the pond. The Moon Locking Pavillion acts as a place to contemplate the reflections in the water without getting rained on.
The Moon Locking Pavilion. #pdx
Another pleasing detail -- a flower relief at the cusp of a bridge.
Bridge emblem. #pdx

In another pavillion, there were things for children to play with. One of them was a tin with Chinese fortune telling sticks. You were meant to shake the sticks and get one of them to drop on a cabinet top. The numbers on the sticks corresponded to little drawers in the cabinet. In the drawers were paper slips with your fortune. I got number 28.

I thought that this divination method might be a variation of the I Ching. And maybe it is. I don't know. When I googled the meaning of hexagram 28, I got so many different and contradicting interpretations, I gave up. Maybe it's a good thing that currently used Western forms of divination, like the tarot and the runes, have amassed only a few hundred year's worth of interpretations. At least most readers broadly agree on the meaning of individual cards or runes.
Very good fortune. #pdx
Toward the end of my stay, the sun came out. Here it is shining through the fragrant pink petals of a Magnolia stellata.
thoughtsbykatthoughtsbykat on May 9th, 2017 07:56 pm (UTC)
I loved this garden which I saw when visiting my daughter. Did you partake of the tea ceremony?
puddlesharkpuddleshark on June 6th, 2017 07:05 am (UTC)
That is just amazingly beautiful. So incredibly serene...

Thank you!