Lan Su Chinese Garden–late April

At long last I took the garden tour. No, I didn’t learn all the names.  But I did learn that peonies grow on trees as well as the bushes I am used to seeing them on, that rhododendrons have many, many variations, and that the mild winter caused some plants to show more flowers than usual.

Five essential items in a Chinese philosopher's garden

Five essential items in a Chinese philosopher's garden

I also learned the five essentials in a Chinese philosopher’s garden: rock and architecture (hard) balanced by water and plants (soft) and the fifth, poetry. Though you can barely see the panels of poetry by the door, this photo has all five.

First the comparison views with those in early April

Moon Locking Pavillion

Moon Locking Pavillion

What is most dramatic here is that the leaves that were pink last time are yellow now and will eventually turn to green. The yellow leaves are also visible in the bridge view.

Bridge

Bridge

Note the sense of depth given by the many layers created by the winding paths. It is really hard to believe that the whole garden covers only a city block.  The traditional gardens would also be in cities, bringing nature into the urban setting, so in that sense the location of the Portland garden is also traditional.  The next two shots show more green than before.

Land boat

Land boat

Remember seeing red street lights through the magnolia blossoms? Barely visible now.

Magnolia blossoms replaced by green

Magnolia--more leaf than blossom

Knowing the Fish Pavilion

Knowing the Fish Pavilion

Next structure is the real Knowing the Fish Pavilion.

This time the flowers didn’t make grand vistas–more were closer to the ground. First a close up of the yellow flowers in the upper left corner of the Knowing the Fish Pavilion photo.

Yellow flower close up

Yellow flower close up

Next come separate flowers, not because they are scarce, but more because they demanded individual attention.We were told that one or two had bloomed for the first time–I think the red tree peony was one of them. Alas I listened, but didn’t take notes.

Red tree  peony

Red tree peony

pink tree peony

pink tree peony

green flower

Green flower

white flower

White flower

In addition to the plants along the paths, there are many potted plants, also part of the tradition.

Potted white flowers

Potted white flowers

Some are miniaturized, some are not. This one was full sized. Here is a close up of a bloom:

Close up of potted white flower

Close up of potted white flower

Note also the texture of the leaves.

Rain was threatened most of the time I was there; it fell only while I was inside the tea room eating lunch, so it didn’t hamper my photographing.  It may have helped; there were fewer people to wait till they got out of my setting! The cloudy skies frustrated the plant guide, though.  He wanted to show us shadows cast on the white walls by some leafless plants.  It seems that some plants are in the garden more for the effect of their structure than their blooms.  And since I was not out walking in the rain I didn’t hear the special sound effect the dripping tiles are designed to make. More to look forward to in future visits.

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2 Comments

Filed under nature, Portland OR

2 responses to “Lan Su Chinese Garden–late April

  1. Beautiful garden and gorgeous photos…I almost feel like I’m there. I remember reading one thing about Japanese gardens – one goal was to create different vistas throughout the garden. For example, when a visitor turned a corner they would be pleasantly surprised at the view through an opening in a wall, etc. I wonder if the same is true for Chinese gardens.
    We seldom consider that aspect when creating our “western” gardens!

  2. Louise, thanks for dropping by. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. I know that seeing a new view through openings is important at the Chinese philosophers’ gardens; now sure about the surprise element. I have yet to visit the local Japanese garden–I’ll see if the surprise and new view thing is working there when I go.

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