Portland’s Chinese Garden in Winter – My February Visit

You would think those seemingly ubiquitous huge buildings surrounding this Chinese Garden would affect your travels inside it. From the pictures here and elsewhere, it is so hard to ignore the substantial urban effects of the neighboring towers. Yet, until you have seen it yourself, take it from me that one of the true marvels of this place is how what is outside the walls of this incredibly intimate and sensuous garden has so little – if any – effect on its interior.

(click on all pictures to enlarge)

When you see the buildings in pictures later, you go “Oh yeah, buildings.”

This is a still-involving masterpiece of design, concept and installation. I happen to have a special attachment to the “installation” part owing to the fact that I was involved during its construction. I remember every support under all that dirt and I recall boring holes in the concrete framework under every one of those buildings and walls. I recall the digging of the trees that populate it now. I even recall finding those elusive and perfect trees in some of the weirdest places – from the highways to nursery “back 40’s”. I post about that, in fact, in this blog right here – where I give more detail on some of the construction aspects. But today is about the garden, not me.

From its unprepossessing facade outside on the street –

To it’s entryway and gate –

One is not quite prepared for the marvelous enchantment once one passes these portals and goes inside –

The floor of the first “room” alone assaults the senses with its spectacular complexity. It’s hard to look up. Maybe it’s just me, but I could look at this paving for literal hours – wait – it is just me. Nevertheless, walking surfaces such as this are repeated throughout the entire project, none of them repetitive in pattern, all with a different inlay, including differing stones themselves. We’ll see more as we walk together.

Looking up, we behold the most amazing sort of aperture, set as it is as a feast for the eye in a remarkable, deep and stunning depiction of the meaning of “Feng Shui” itself. Carried by design, we stumble into yet another wonder, led by our senses alone to the next unfolding of some of the genius in Chinese Garden design.

“Qi rides the wind and scatters, but is retained when encountering water.”

Across the stone patio, we see this hole in the wall inviting exploration. There are many places like this in the garden. Some are major vistas within the garden itself, offering hidden promise for the explorer –

Others are these wild and crazy small apertures, leading the mind to yet another utterly involving destination – close but still distant – like the promise of hope, or love – cradled by mankind’s most heartfelt perspectives – cut in simple yet supple, sensuous shapes and seemingly sculpted for no apparent reason – right into the walls themselves. It’s like a gift.

Oh there is something on the other side – but what is it? How large? How meaningful? Honestly, I don’t think I have ever encountered a more pleasant mystery.

And not all apertures are alike. Some are just windows –

But interesting windows. Fascinating windows, made for humans to enjoy not only Nature but his own artifice –

This is a very cool garden. Obviously, waxing as poetic as I am, I adore it. Next post, we’ll discover what all this “Qi” thing and the water alludes to. Maybe see some plants. I’m pretty big on Mahonia.

Yeah, that’s the ticket. Like it?

4 thoughts on “Portland’s Chinese Garden in Winter – My February Visit

  1. Thanks for visiting my blog, and for this post! My guide to Pac NW gardens was a great excuse to tour the gardens of Portland, Seattle and B.C., but it’s great to be updated, and it’s always enlightening to read someone else’s thoughts about a garden.

  2. Thanks Alice. I obviously enjoyed your own post about the new Getty Museum in L.A. and the breathtaking landscape plan and all it’s stunning features there. Your writing made the trip a total pleasure.

    Julenajo – thank you so much for dropping in again. The place you live looks so soothing. somehow.

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