Monday, September 22, 2014

2014 Garden Bloggers Fling - Portland Chinese Garden

OK, I'll just go ahead and say it. I don't like really like chinese gardens. It's something about the ornateness of everything - swooping roofs, scrollwork, patterned tiles, painted woodwork, heavily puckered stone - texture upon texture upon texture! I find it a bit overwhelming. There is also a high-contrast to chinese gardens I have a hard time with - those white walls right next to dark plants and how an overly bright courtyard will lead to a very dark shady spot. And the fact that I always seem to go to chinese gardens on really hot, sunny days probably does not help. I'm sure some folks love the drama of these gardens, to me they just feel too unnatural. Yet chinese gardens are supposed to be creating a hyper-natural style. Maybe it's the hyper part that gets to me. 


BUT, that said, I did find some scenes I really liked at Portland's  Lan Su Chinese Garden. If I can just focus on a detail or two, put blinders on to strip away some of the drama, then I find some beautiful things that would be lovely to incorporate into a garden of my own. 

Who wouldn't love to have an amazing gate like this in one's garden? 


One feature I couldn't get enough of are the mosaic pebble floors. I love the pattens and the way the plants and moss soften the edges. Apparently the pebbles act like an acupressure treatment to the feet if you take your shoes off. I found it pleasant but a tad bit painful too. 



And the architecture I can take in bits and pieces. I asked the guy dusting the bridge how often they had to dust the scrollwork. "Every day" he said, somewhat mournfully I thought. He did add that it can be quite meditative though. Weeding I find meditative, dusting not so much. 


Those rocks I can appreciate in small doses. 


The boat and lily pads were pretty charming. 


Another moon gate. 


Some calmer textural layering here. 


And the garden had some neat plants too. Impatiens omeiana definitely likes Portland. They don't look that happy in Oakland. And this was a new pine to me - Pinus bungeana or Lacebark Pine. Love the camo look. 


OK, so there was plenty to like. I'd even go visit again. 


  1. I find it so amazing that so many Fling attendees took off their shoes and enjoyed the pebble paths in a way that I, a member of this garden for 5+ years, never have...

    1. I hope you tried it too danger garden!

  2. I laughed my way through your post, Kelly. I enjoyed your refreshing honesty about not loving this style of garden and why -- and your valiant effort to find things you liked about it. Your pictures, no surprise to me, are amazing, and especially the 2nd one of the child with the red umbrella in the moon gate, even with that photobombing dude. HOW did you get that? Did you ask her to pose? If not, it's a nice capture on a busy day in harsh lighting. I bow to you.

    1. I got lucky with the shot of the girl with the umbrella! I was waiting at that gate for FOREVER trying to get a shot without no one in the foreground or background. This girl wandered into the shot. She's looking back at her family who are telling her to get out of my way. She looked embarrassed when she realized she'd wandered into the photo. But I sure am glad she did!

    2. Serendipity, and being ready with the camera. That's what it's all about.