Tag Archives: Lan Su Chinese Garden

Fall at the Chinese Garden

I’ve not gotten a lot of use out of my membership this year. Most summer days were too hot for a visit. Then the rains came. But today was sunny though in the chilly side with temperatures in the 40s as 12 mph winds. Still, the garden is fairly sheltered from the wind.

There wasn’t as much fall color as I had hoped. My neighborhood has some bright oranges, yellows and reds. But there was some.

When your plants don’t flower, have a mum show. There were pots of full sized mums and miniature ones. “Penji” I think they are called in China. I do know they aren’t called “bonsai.”

But the show stealer was the tiger made of mostly mums to celebrate the year of the tiger. Personally I thought he looked pretty tame.



Filed under Portland OR

Chinese New Year

I have a membership to Lan Su Chinese Garden again after a couple years’ break. What better way to initiate it than the New Year celebration with the Dragon Dance at night? My daughter got the best close up video, but alas I am too cheap to upgrade to Premium so as to include videos here. So if you really want to see a video leave a comment and I’ll reply by email with an attachment.

I started out with a daytime visit. Remember how I used to just miss seeing the plum blossom tree in full bloom? This year I made it. Even though the lanterns overtake the blossoms, I’m including this photo as proof. 🙂

This photo also shows the tile design called ‘Plum Blossom on Cracked Ice’ because the tree blooms so early in the year that the ice is not always gone. This year, however, was pretty mild.

And here is a close up–not very high as I wasn’t daring enough to climb onto a bench.

The floats were already out, so I got a preview as well as a look at other flowers in bloom. (Many more look just ready to pop.)

Not only do I have the dragon float, but also in the background is the willow tree I always try to photograph for seasonal continuity. The dragon looked a lot fiercer at night.

And I did get a still of the dragon dance, though the video is much more impressive.


Filed under Portland OR

In Search of Plum Blossoms

After the hectic days around Christmas and New Years, it is hard to shift gears to think to check for plum blossoms at the Lan Su Chinese Garden. Usually I am too late. This year, at the same time of month, I appear to have been too early.

a plum blossom 1

Other flowers were in bloom though.

(I’m posting these for all the people buried in snow–spring will come.) Mostly, though, moss was the feature–that is a Pacific Northwest winter, rain and moss. We haven’t had s much rain as usual, but enough to make moss.

It was a rainy day, and I went on purpose to hear the drip from the tile roof, but it was a  misty rain while I was there, so I still haven’t heard the featured sound. Someday.

That was last week. This week I tried again.

a plum blossoms 2

Still not full bloom. (I don’t think this is the tail end–looked like buds waiting to open to me.) Meanwhile, decorations for Chinese New Year have begun. Here are some more lanterns.

a bridge reflection l

It was a great day for reflections.

a pagoda l

In the foreground might be rosebuds. At any rate, there were no roses in bloom either of these visits, though I did see buds.  These are the first visits I remember that there was not even a single rose. Still there is always much to see, no matter the season or weather.




Filed under Portland OR

Autumn at the Chinese Garden

I’ve visited several times since renewing my Lan Su membership, but for one reason or another didn’t take many photos. Last week I was camera happy.

First some overviews–it has been so long that I’ve forgotten names of some of the building.

1land boat

I do remember the land boat (left), but not the pagoda’s name.

1zigzag bridge

And the zigzag bridge–shaped because evil spirits go in straight lines, thus they can’t get across.

I was amazed at how much green remains in the garden. It has been a mild fall. On my street there are bare trees that had been yellow, red leaves still hanging and a few green trees delaying the color thing.

The poetry wheel is either new, or I’ve managed to visit at times when it wasn’t displayed.

1 poetry wheel

Workshops were taught–I’m not sure how many styles of poem were among the lessons. The form the garden sports is the couplet: two lines with patterned opposites.  If the first word of one line is “many” the first line of the next is “one,” for example. The poems I read did not follow that pattern. Workshop attendees could opt to exhibit their poems. I took some close ups to share, but the words weren’t visible in the photos. You’ll have to use your imagination.

The sun was bright and beautiful, but it did wash out color on some of my photos. On the other hand, it made shadow designs.

1 shadows

There actually were quite a few people visiting that day–and they did photo bomb some of my shots. It seems amazing I got any without people.

Some bits of fall color:

And pomegranates in two places, a large tree and a potted tree.

The tour guide said the ones on the small tree were the largest he had seen it produce. It seems a plentiful year.  In the past there has been fruit still hanging late into winter, so I guess they don’t harvest them.

And in spite of it being fall, there are still flowers.

I hope you enjoyed your vicarious visit.




Filed under photography, Portland OR

Lan Su Chinese Garden and Rose Parade

It’s been a couple years since I last visited the Chinese Garden.  Out of town guests prompted me to renew my membership. As is my usual custom, we did the tour (I always learn something new) and sipped tea in the tea room.

I’ve always appreciated the carved panels. Previous guides have mentioned that each of the four represented historic philosophers’ gardens in China.

ls wood panel

This guide pointed out that this panel showed the garden that the design of Lan Su was mostly based upon, noting the tea room (top), pagoda, and zigzag bridge. And here is the bridge in the garden.

ls zigzag bridge distant

Previously I’d heard the lore that the zigzag made it more difficult for evil spirits to cross; this time the explanation was more mundane.  It delayed passage, slowing people down, giving the experience of a larger garden. For a real philosopher’s garden would also be a small space in a busy city, made to look/represent large. As in the “mountain” and waterfall.

ls waterfall

Sometimes the idea is all that is needed.

Then to the tea room.

ls View

This time we were seated upstairs where we got an overview of the garden.

And tea.

ls tea in tearoom

Each kind of tea has its own kind of pot and cup. I especially liked this delicate flowerlike cup for the Black tea with rose petals (timely because of the rose parade).

Here is the Lan Su float for the rose parade.

ls float front

Yes, I was a wimp and viewed from inside on a chair! But floats were on the street later for close-up looks.


I have more float photos; maybe another day.






Filed under Portland OR

Last Lan Su for awhile

The Lan Su Chinese Garden is closing after Thanksgiving for some major repairs to the lake–the lining needs to be replaced and they are creating places for the koi to hide from the herons that pass through for dinner. That pushed me to make a visit before it closed, and the timing led to some spectacular color.

The star red tree–front.

Fall redFrom the back

LS red 1 back

Through the arch

LS red 1 through archWith that little penjing as an accent. I remember the first time I saw one of those miniaturized trees changing with the season. After my surprise, I thought, Of course!

There were other more delicate colors, as well as an exhibit of mums and floral arrangements.

And the most persimmons I’ve seen on the tree. Maybe I should say the most I remember seeing–I didn’t go back and check old photos.

There were indoor floral arrangement demonstrations too, and we watched two. But my photos of their arrangements didn’t turn out. Two very different styles, and fun to see both. And mums everywhere.

And the ritual landboat shot–with persimmons to the left and lotus in the foreground.

LS landboat

The view through the keyhole arch was spectacular too.

LS key hole arch




Filed under photography, Portland OR

Mid-Autumn Festival at Lan Su Chinese Garden

This weekend is the Mid-Autumn Festival, second in popularity to the Chinese New Year. Lan Su Chinese Garden celebrates both in a big way. I made it to two performances and enjoyed a moon cake, traditional pastry of the festival.

I got there in time for the Lion Dance, but not in time to get a good viewing spot.

Too bad I didn’t remember how to do videos–the batting eyelashes and scratching behind the ear would have been fun to capture. That the lion was maneuvered by people did not have to be hidden, as you can see from the photo where the lions raise their heads. The lion definitely liked its reflection. That pose plus some stair climbing animal tricks were amazing when you think the performers’ hands were busy manipulating head and tail, so all other motions were made feet alone.

My ritual photo of the land boat.

Land Boat

This photo is from the stage. The land boat was prime viewing space, so as soon as the Lion Dance was over I headed that way. The performances were every hour on the hour with time to enjoy the garden in between  One activity for children was making red lanterns.

Floating lantern

One didn’t make it home. I spent the 15 minutes between acts holding my spot for viewing the next performance and watching fish along with the floating lantern.


You may remember photos from a way back where a heron visited the garden. Seems they feast on the fish in the lake. I doubt they would eat this big guy though. The dancers performed three numbers.

I did not get the name of the first one (blue costumes); the second was Golden Peacock, and the last was Lotus Dreams. Again, video would have been great to capture the gliding motion among others.

The weather was perfect for enjoying the festival, and if the sky remains clear, I’ll enjoy the eclipse tonight.


Filed under Portland OR

Color Play

Lately I’ve been seeing posts deriving palettes from photos through various programs, Palette Builder 2.1 being one of them.

I decided to play too.

photo plus palette

While I might have fun playing with this palette, the first thing I notice is what is missing, the reds and yellows. Does that mean Moda doesn’t have a match for these? I’d be surprised if that were true. Is it related to amounts of color, and the tool goes for larger percentages? Maybe.

Let’s try another with more accent colors.

Second paletteWhere are the white and reds? Does the algorithm “assume” that I can see these accent colors for myself and need help only with the more subtle ones? Maybe.

Well, let’s try one where there is no accent color, just for fun.

Landboat palette

This one is to say, yes, these are from my most recent Lan Su Chinese Garden visit. And yes the red rose is blooming again. And here is the ritual landboat shot.  I missed the new ritual bridge shot. Gotta get into that habit. But about color: no accents to lose, so no disappointment. Benefit of the palette builder here is the blue, second from the right. I’d not seen that in the photo.

Just one more. It is a bit addictive, I must admit.

more color

I tried a more colorful photo. Can you believe that that one pink (I’ve already forgotten its Moda Bella name) is the only reddish color from that photo? It is obviously not a selection based on amount of a color in the photo.[ETA: Since looking at the tutorial mentioned in the comments, I see that the program does work from volume of a color. I’ll have to study why that doesn’t appear to be the largest amount of a shade of pink to my eye.] I would also appreciate if the “save” feature produced the names of the Kona Bella solids along with the squares. You get the names when you upload the photo; they just don’t save.

A while back I took a class with Jean Wells Keenan when she was inducted into the Quilters Hall of Fame. She too advises getting a color palette from photos. However, she emphasized maintaining the proportions of colors in the photo. Now wouldn’t a tool be lovely if it did that proportion math? Of course I’m using a free app; maybe one exists out there that does what I want for a fee.

I’ll be linking with Creative Goodness on Friday, link in sidebar.


Filed under design, quilting

Visited in March, Reporting in April

I totally missed February at the Lan Su Chinese Garden, so I never did see the plum blossom tree in full bloom. Nor can I tell you if the red rose was still blooming. But I can tell you it wasn’t on March 25. Plenty of other flowers were, though.

Then there are the ritual shots:


The landboat and the weeping willow.  Wasn’t it nice of that tourist to wear red and pose there? If you can’t wait for tourists to move, it is nice when they fit the photo.  The weeping willow looks so lacy in the spring–I think that is one reason I started making the landboat a ritual photo. This isn’t the usual angle for the landboar shot, but it was raining, so I stayed under a roof.


And the bridge.

As to wildlife, there were two mating pairs: scrub jays and ducks. The jays darted in and out, but were too fast for me to get a photo. They were looking for a nesting spot.  After they nest, they will dive bomb visitors for a few weeks.  I did get one of the ducks, though they weren’t into staying still either.

ducksI learned something new–it pays to do the tour each visit, each guide is so different. This one emphasized issues of education, occupation and status. It seems not just any child could inherit the garden; it had to go to one with the proper education and standing! So the wealthy families selected one son to groom for status and inheritance.


Filed under Portland OR

Lan Su Chinese Garden, Late January

Two years and I have missed the plum blossom tree in full bloom, being too early and/or too late. This year I am determined. . . . Not quite yet though.
First view of plum blossom treeNot a bad show–and the best I’ve gotten so far– but not full bloom yet.

Now it is supposed to be the first bloom of winter, but the tree to the left either didn’t know that or decided to upstage it.

Tree to left

Actually the guide said that this tree was blooming over a month early since the winter had been so mild.

The floor mosaic honors the plum blossom tree too: Plum Blossoms on Cracked Ice. (My blocks for the Cracked Ice quilt reminded me of this floor, hence the quilt name.)

Floor mosaic

Other flowers were blooming.

These photos are to say to all folks stuck in snowdrifts that spring will come. The upper left flower is called Wintersweet, and it does have an amazing fragrance. The lower left is one I’ve been calling forsythia; however, it is winter jasmine. Today’s guide was very good about naming the plants–too bad I don’t remember all of the names. The bees were enjoying the other yellow flower–one whose name I didn’t catch. And the lower right is the red rose that has been in bloom every visit since I’ve been watching it.

And here is the ritual view of the landboat.

landboatNote that there are no longer any persimmons hanging on to the tree to the left. I’m thinking I need another ritual shot besides the land boat. How about this bridge?

Bridge and Lake Tai rockThese two views capture four of the five elements of a Chinese philosopher’s garden: water, stone, architecture, and of course plants. What is missing is poetry. Another visit.

And one last view of the plum blossoms.

plum close up


Filed under nature, photography, Portland OR