Sunny day at Portland Japanese Garden


A trip to Portland, Oregon, wouldn’t be complete without seeing the city’s luminous Japanese garden. During our mid-August visit, we had to try twice because the first time, on a Sunday afternoon, we simply could not find any parking, even after circling for a half hour. Even on Monday at midday we waited in line 25 minutes at the admission booth to get in. This is a popular garden, y’all. (And at $14.95 a ticket, it isn’t cheap either, plus no reciprocal admissions.)


But for all that, Portland Japanese Garden is lovely indeed and well worth a visit.


Once you get past the entry hassles, you can relax and enjoy the serenity of the ponds, moss and gravel gardens, and light-filtering leaves overhead.


A zigzagging wooden bridge across a koi pond is a popular spot for visitors.


Colorful koi make their own fishy paths alongside the bridge.


We always make a game of trying to pick our favorite color patterns.


Spanning a larger pond, a gently arching bridge offers pretty views — and becomes one itself.


Nearby, a roofed gate leads from the sunny pond area into…


…a shady tea garden, framed here by a window on the tea house terrace.


The Natural Garden may be my favorite area. It’s tranquil and shady, and narrow winding paths lead you past ponds…


…and down a magical stone stair…


…through a glowing mossy hillside.


At the base of the stair, a diamond-in-a-square stone basin gracefully accepts a trickle from a bamboo fountain.


I love this.


Backlit maple leaves make a green canopy.


A board-and-slat fence opens under a rectangular arbor to invite you along a streamside stone path.


At the garden’s lowest point, a sheltered bench beckons…


…and frames a view.


A stone lantern leads the eye toward another stair.


Time to climb back up.


Midway up the hill, a karesansui garden appears, with stones set in rippled gravel that represent the Buddha (the tall stone) and a starving tigress and her cubs, for whom he sacrifices himself in an act of compassion.


Stone pagoda and luminescent trees


Another gravel garden, called the Flat Garden, extends just off the veranda of a large pavilion. Gravel waves ripple against mossy islands while carefully clipped trees and shrubs across the “sea” represent a distant shoreline.


The glare from all that white gravel reminds me that I’d love to see Portland Japanese Garden, and especially this space, in the gentler light of a different season. I’ve visited three times, always on a bright summer’s day. I long to visit on a misty autumn morning — check out Scott’s extraordinary photos from October 2013. Travel goals! And, heck, photography goals.


Inside the pavilion, an exhibit of Kabuki costumes was on view. Kabuki is classical Japanese dance-drama with all-male performers who wear elaborate makeup and costumes.


The exhibit, which ended earlier this month, “explore[d] the flamboyant and fanciful traditional performing art of Kabuki through an exhibition of seven authentic costumes on loan from Japan.”


Ironically, although Kabuki was created and popularized by a woman in the early 1600s, the shogunate later banned women from the stage to “protect the public morality,” leaving the stage to men — a tradition that continues to this day.


I wish I’d taken pictures of the new Cultural Village buildings near the entry, which opened this spring. But for some reason I didn’t, even though we admired the acclaimed contemporary architecture. I did take a couple of photos of the bonsai displayed outside, including this Ezo spruce…


…and Japanese maple. Lovely!


As is the whole garden. One day, though, I’m going to have to see this garden in the fall.

Up next: Sunset over the Pacific at Cannon Beach, my final post from our CA/OR road trip. For a look back at Portland’s boutique nursery Thicket, click here.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
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Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Get ready for fall garden tours in Texas! The Garden Conservancy is sponsoring Open Days tours in Fort Worth on Oct. 8th, San Antonio on Oct. 14th, and Austin on Nov. 4th.

Get on the mailing list for Garden Spark Talks. Inspired by the idea of house concerts, I’m hosting a series of garden talks by talented designers and authors out of my home. Talks are limited-attendance events and generally sell out within just a few days, so join the Garden Spark email list for early notifications. Simply click this link and ask to be added.

All material © 2006-2017 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Lan Su Chinese Garden, a downtown Portland oasis


While vacationing in Portland last month, we visited Lan Su Chinese Garden in downtown Portland. It was my third visit, and I find I enjoy it more each time I see it. Chinese gardens have had to grow on me, so different do they seem from the Western or even Japanese garden traditions I’m used to, with a city-like emphasis on architecture — which is, at Lan Su, ornately beautiful.


Pavilions and a tea house with swoop-edged roofs offer sheltered garden-viewing spots throughout this walled urban oasis.


Rather than extensive garden beds or an open lawn, the heart of this garden is a large pond with waterlilies and lotus.


This small pavilion along a zigzagging bridge was a popular spot to enjoy the garden.


A mysterious grotto of rugged limestone rocks can be seen just beyond the bridge.


From this arched bridge…


…you see a waterfall fountain inside the grotto. Outside, etched and painted Chinese characters offer…a short poem? The name of this garden feature? No climbing on rocks, please?


Semi-hidden views are a theme of this garden, with cut-out windows in organic shapes offering glimpses of or entry into intimate courtyards.


A square lattice window


A quatrefoil doorway


This moon doorway with a view of a craggy standing stone is my favorite. Called Tai Hu rocks, according to the garden’s website, the limestone is mined from Lake Tai in China. “They are prized for their four virtues which are: the holes that allow life force to flow freely, the rough texture, their slenderness, and being top-heavy. More than 500 tons of rock was shipped from China for the Garden.”


The pebble mosaic paving is a work of art.


Beautiful pebble mosaic paths lead through the garden rooms.


This pavilion is positioned to enjoy a view of the koi pond.


Covered walkways with lattice detailing lead a winding path along the garden’s outer perimeter.


Vertical layers of lattice


And lattice windows


A wooden boat floats at one end of the pond, as if awaiting a boating party.


Foo dog finial


A Chinese poem is carved into the wooden wall of one pavilion.


Downtown buildings rise over the garden, but inside the walls is this serene oasis.


Lotus was in bloom during our August visit.


Inside one of the pavilions were demonstrations of Chinese arts. A musician plucked the strings of a zheng, or Chinese zither.


And a calligrapher wrote out a humorous poem, something about drinking too much wine…


…and offered it to our language-learning daughter.


We enjoyed our visit to Lan Su, a lovely glimpse into classical Chinese culture.

Up next: Thicket, an urban boutique nursery in Portland. For a look back at Loree Bohl’s exquisite Danger Garden, click here.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
_______________________

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Get ready for fall garden tours in Texas! The Garden Conservancy is sponsoring Open Days tours in Fort Worth on Oct. 8th, San Antonio on Oct. 14th, and Austin on Nov. 4th.

Get on the mailing list for Garden Spark Talks. Inspired by the idea of house concerts, I’m hosting a series of garden talks by talented designers and authors out of my home. Talks are limited-attendance events and generally sell out within just a few days, so join the Garden Spark email list for early notifications. Simply click this link and ask to be added.

All material © 2006-2017 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Columbia River Gorge, waterfalls, and flower farms, a scenic Oregon drive — before the fire


I debated about writing this post right now. During our August road trip from San Francisco to Portland, we made a day trip along the majestically scenic Columbia River Gorge, the “playground of Oregonians” that’s currently on fire. As the Eagle Creek fire has raged for a week along the waterfall-festooned gorge, threatening historic structures and torching 33,000 acres, even raining ash on the city of Portland, I’ve been saddened to think that the natural beauty we marveled over just a month ago may be blighted for years to come.

And yet wildfire is a natural occurrence (even though this fire was human-caused), and perhaps the fecundity of northwestern Oregon will soon hide the burn scars. People’s homes, of course, are a different story, and every loss there must be difficult to bear. As a tribute to the region, I decided to go ahead and post about our recent day spent exploring the wonders of the Columbia River Gorge.

Waterfalls


Streaming from high cliffs along the Oregon side of the Columbia River, more than 90 waterfalls make this a spectacularly scenic area. A number of big ones can be easily viewed from pullouts along the Historic Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway, and trails take you to others, like Bridal Veil Falls, pictured here.


Latourell Falls, spilling straight down from a cleft in a lichen-covered basalt cliff face, is especially beautiful.


Wahkeena Falls sluices down a curving drop and then fans out into a wide sheet along the trail…


…creating a chilly breeze for those who get close.


The most famous of the waterfalls is Multnomah Falls, a 620-foot cascade with a picturesque footbridge between the two drops.


We climbed the trail to the bridge and admired the view along with throngs of selfie-taking tourists.

Hood River


All that waterfall viewing made us hungry, so when we reached Hood River we headed straight to Full Sail Brew Pub for burgers and a tasting flight of their beers (delivered on a sail-shaped stand, no less) on the deck overlooking the colorful sails of kite and wind surfers on the river.


Afterward, we walked along the river to see the kite surfers and wind surfers doing their thing.

Fruit Loop


Next we headed south along the Fruit Loop, a 35-mile loop in the scenic Hood River Valley, where dozens of orchards and flower farms offer their wares at roadside farm stands. We stopped at the picturesque Gorge White House for cherries, drinks, and a stroll through their you-pick flower field.


Snow-capped Mt. Hood floats in the distance — rather otherworldly to this Southerner. I could hardly tear my eyes away from the mountain…


…until I spotted the flower field.


Dahlias in summer glory glowed in the late afternoon light.


Black-eyed Susans too


Mesmerizing


Ahh, look at them!


Tall sunflowers blazed against blue skies.


I admired their friendly faces.


And so did the bees.


Gladiolus flying colorful pennants


By the time we left, all the farm stands were closing for the day, but we stopped at Lavender Valley Farm anyway because of an amazing view…


…Mt. Hood rising over roadside meadow grass and Queen Anne’s lace.


That sky!

Columbia River


As we drove back along the Columbia River toward Portland, the sun was gilding the river and cliff faces. At a pullout, we stopped to admire the view and get a few golden-hour shots. That’s Vista House, an observatory atop a sheer promontory, where we’d stopped for a bird’s-eye view earlier that day.


What a majestic view


I’m grateful to have experienced the beauty of this place for a second time. Click here to read about an earlier visit I made in 2014, with lavender fields in bloom below Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams.

Up next: Danger! My return visit to the Danger Garden of Loree Bohl. For a look back at the Eugene, Oregon, garden of Rebecca Sams and Buell Steelman, click here.

I welcome your comments; please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading this in a subscription email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post.
_______________________

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Get ready for fall garden tours in Texas! The Garden Conservancy is sponsoring Open Days tours in Fort Worth on Oct. 8th, San Antonio on Oct. 14th, and Austin on Nov. 4th.

Get on the mailing list for Garden Spark Talks. Inspired by the idea of house concerts, I’m hosting a series of garden talks by talented designers and authors out of my home. Talks are limited-attendance events and generally sell out within just a few days, so join the Garden Spark email list for early notifications. Simply click this link and ask to be added.

All material © 2006-2017 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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