The second day of the 7th annual Garden Bloggers Fling, held in Portland in mid-July, began in the renowned Portland Japanese Garden, often described as the most authentic of its kind outside of Japan.
I had visited a few days earlier with my husband on a hot, sunny morning. It was a pleasure to see it again, and I already knew where the cool, shady places were — like under the skirt of this Japanese maple.
It’s a good garden for hot weather. Water trickles from bamboo fountains throughout the garden, offering its cooling music.
Ponds, streams, and waterfalls abound as well, surrounded by a tapestry of greenery.
While water is absent from the dry garden, raked white gravel represents the sea surrounding mossy islands. The scene, I learned, is meant to be appreciated as you would a painting, from a single perspective. You do not enter the garden but view it from a veranda.
The overhanging roof of the veranda frames the view, blocking out the tall native firs in the background and bringing the scene down to human scale.
Just as the teahouse roof does for this mossy garden
A peaceful scene
In other parts of the garden, bright sunlight beautifully illuminated the leaves of hundreds of maples like stained glass.
This glowing Japanese maple shelters a stone lantern.
Nearby a dramatic waterfall cascades into a koi-filled pond.
Wending its way across one end of the pond is a traditional wooden zig-zag bridge. Koi trail along beside you, like pets expecting a treat.
The last of the irises were drooping on their stems under the hot sun.
A garden worker was clipping the spent flowers and placing them in a basket. I asked what she was planning to do with the flowers, thinking a few might be floated in a fountain or something, but she told me no, they would be discarded. A pity — they were still quite pretty in the basket.
A covered gate marks the passage between the pond and the teahouse garden.
Sunlight was gilding the garden.
Here’s Helen Battersby, host of next year’s Garden Bloggers Fling in Toronto, on the moon bridge, taking in the view.
A carved image half-buried on a mossy hillside looks like an ancient relic.
The stone paths and bridges throughout the garden entice you to explore, but slowly, stepping carefully so as not to rush through the garden.
Here a casual stair of flat boulders meets a more formal, cut-stone stair…
…which serpentines down a gloamy slope between moss-draped boulders.
The stair is itself a work of art.
Moss, shrub, and tree wrap you in a green glow here.
Mossy boulders give a sense of timelessness to the scene, even as a stream trickles by and flowers bloom and fade, illustrating the passage of time.
I caught the end of a guided tour by Sadafumi Uchiyama, the Garden Curator, and immediately regretted not hearing his entire tour.
Mr. Uchiyama spoke eloquently about the purpose, symbolism, and techniques involved in Japanese gardens, giving me a much greater understanding and appreciation of the style than I’d ever have gotten on my own.
Here’s the zen garden, a garden composed entirely of stone, meant to be viewed, as with the other dry garden, from a single perspective. A wall encloses the scene, focusing your gaze on the gravel “water,” with raked ripples around seven floating stones, all seeming to point toward a tall, figure-like stone at the rear.
The scene is meant to be harmonious and pleasing to the eye, Mr. Uchiyama explained, but it also represents a Japanese legend about the Buddha sacrificing himself to save a starving tiger and her cubs, illustrating the virtue of compassion.
I’ll conclude with another glowing bouquet of sunlit leaves.
After leaving the Japanese Garden we walked over to the Rose Garden amphitheater, where we had a group picture made. Here we are, the Portland Flingers — what a fun group!
Up next: Fling co-host Loree Bohl’s spikylicious Danger Garden. For a look back at the John Greenlee-designed Westwind Farm Studio gardens, click here.
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