Monday, March 11, 2013

Portland's Chinese Garden Sows Good Fortune And Joy

The Lan Su Chinese Garden
in Portland, Oregon is an urban oasis.

It is a classic Chinese garden that, surprisingly, opened only 12 years ago and features traditional Chinese garden elements of water,



Weeping katsura

and trees, all centered around a pond.

Winter jasmine,  (Jasminum nudiflorum) lower right

And despite the occasional office buildings visible just beyond, it is possible to escape from a hectic day in this American city and be transported--via garden--to a faraway land. You will enjoy a few valuable moments of serenity.

When I visited here February 23, the garden was decked out in red lanterns for the typical 15-day celebration of the Chinese new year.

This is the year of the snake--one of the 12 symbols of the Chinese zodiac. Snakes are born in the years 1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013 and 2025. Their lucky flowers (yes, lucky flowers) are orchids and cactus.

The color red is commonly used in Chinese celebrations because it is a cultural symbol of good fortune and joy.

Camellia transnokoensis,
Fragrant tea flower

I considered it my good fortune to visit the garden on a day 
when Spring was beginning to bloom in a most charming way. Flower buds beginning to open up--joy!

Prunus mume, Chinese flowering plum tree
I fell in love with this vignette, tree branches in bloom with delicate pink buds against a backdrop of thick and rich green, moss-covered roof tiles. Mossy growth is everywhere in this city, the land of the resident rain cloud. But it was also my good fortune that the weather was better than anyone anticipated. This is winter in the Northwest after all, and the weather forecast for the two day weekend I visited went something like this: rain, rain and more rain, all day and all night.

 As it turned out, I never had to use my umbrella at all.
Good fortune and joy!

It was chilly in the 40's and I saw mostly gray skies, but there were some blue skies now and then too, particularly while I was at the garden.

This is the New Year tree of wishes and money; it is hung with ancient Chinese coins and red ribbons.  (I found myself wishing money trees would grow in my garden.)

I came to visit the Chinese garden to see the evening celebration. I didn't know about the colorful lion dance that would be performed during the day

but I was particularly looking forward to the night-time lantern festival. The pond was beautiful--covered with brightly lit lanterns

 while guests were entertained with the red Chinese Dragon.
And all without a raindrop. Good fortune and joy!

The red camellia japonica shrub, "Drama girl" was in bloom

and she was a beauty.

Winter jasmine was just beginning to bloom, with branches splayed at the edges of the pond.

But my favorite bloom was this,

the Chinese paper bush (Egeworthia chrysantha), with its cheery spray of tiny, yellow flowers,
 shining bright like the sun throughout the garden.

The paper bush resembles the sun and the Chinese garden isn't complete

without moon gates that resemble, well, the moon.

I was fortunate to have some sunshine during the day but it was by the light of a silvery, full moon that I left the garden that evening. And it occurs to me that I had the perfect ending to a joyful day in another beautiful garden.

This is GardenEnvy.

Copyright 2013 by Jeannine.  All Rights Reserved.


  1. Thanks so very much for the tour of the Japanese Garden. I love that style of gardening. I have been to a number of Japanese gardens on the west coast in California, but not yet to Portland. Here on the shores of Lake Michigan I have a number of garden rooms and one small Asian Garden that often appears in some of my posted photos. Great posting today! jack

  2. It's a beautiful garden and so lucky to visit whilst the sun was shining brightly. The festivities at that time just added to its beauty :)

  3. I love visiting gardens and Japanese gardens are one of my favourite. Great photos!

  4. Fabulous pictures! I love that you got great weather for your visit to the gardens. (I've lived in Seaside and Cannon Beach and visited my brother many times in Portland, so I know how lucky you were.)

    The Chinese paper bush is amazing but my absolute favorite picture is the scalloped moon gate with the luscious vines trained around the top.

    Your post reminds me of our visit to the Chinese Garden in Montreal four or five years ago. I'll have to dig out those pics and do a post on it - too pretty to keep it buried in a computer folder.

    ~ Milli

  5. Jeannine I love Asian inspired gardens. They are so peaceful, full of structure and different from my garden. They also inspire an eye for detail and great discipline...thanks for such a lovely visit.


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