Portland Chinese Garden Part 3 – Other Stuff

It’s hard to believe I posted this nearly 8 years ago. Sigh, lol……Time’s pageantry is motoring along on its own while we celebrate small victories and horrible losses, almost like it doesn’t even care!  😉

Needless to say, this gorgeous Garden has evolved further over time. This garden has been stupendously maintained by very diligent crew from Day One – a position of much regard from this corner. It has become more peaceful, more necessary and more existentially perfect as each year has passed. It is rapidly moving up as a Bucket List sort of destination. The incredible craftsmen, designers and organizers of this gorgeous and serene bit of soulful peacefulness in the middle of a raging and rather wealthy city I am happy to say I knew well enough to have worked side by side during it’s construction. No one gained more than me from all that.

(The images expand – these are among the few remaining gigantic images I have retained in this blog, owing to the hoggish nature of the bandwidth required. A left click on the picture will isolate it – some of them expand yet again by clicking one more time).


I have no idea who she is and I hope she doesn’t mind terribly but her head sure did fit real nice into the hole in that rock. If you enlarge it, you’ll see what I mean. That rock and many others are among many features abounding at Portland’s Chinese garden – a small urban Wonderland of lushness, quiet natural and man made beauty, set right smack downtown in the midst of it all.

Well-maintained and elegant, some phenonomenally gorgeous plantings adorn the garden, from this well-trained Pine to the Weeping Willow behind it whose Spring and Summer look adds dramatic softness – if such a thing can be said – to the ambiance. The building we see in the picture above is “The Boat Shaped Pavilion” or “Painted Boat in Misty Rain” – an altogether appropriate title for a city that gets the Winter rainfall of Portland. I got lucky this day on mid February, catching some good solid sunlight and thoroughly enjoying every second of it.

I was able to get close pictures of some of the things I like best about the garden, especially including this roof line of the “Waterside Pavilion”, with another gorgeous Pine framing it. Because of the protecting nature of the walled Garden and the closeness of the buildings, Palm Trees are allowed some growth inside. They barely eke out an existence – if at all – in Portland, proper, but they make a fabulous and very rich addition to this landscape. In Summer, the Banana Trees also show up, spreading proudly and looking every bit as lush. At this time of year in the garden, they are pretty much just stumps.

Here is yet another look at “The Boat”, featuring more water this time. I will now commence to including more pictures of water, the essential completing element to this Garden, especially inasmuch as it occupies a full one third of the grounds. Prior to this – in my other posts – I stuck to some details, but the pictures to come will illustrate a more total picture of this charming place and the role water plays in it over all.

Here’s where the water “begins”, cascading down this very recessed waterfall and into the large pond below. I love the inset provisions of the falls, especially since I know, as a maker of these sorts of waterfalls and creek, the incredible amount of piercing noise running water can make. By recessing the falls, it serves a couple of functions:

1. It does keep the noise down, protected as it is by those protruding sets of columns on either side.

2. It does not overwhelm in any sense – aural or visual – from the natural peacefulness of the Garden itself.

In itself, it is not particularly striking, although it has its own gorgeousness by virtue of the surrounding rocks. In the picture below, the waterfall is recessed, to the left, barely discernible.

In the next picture, we are standing mere feet away from the falls but toward the other side, Westward. As you can see, there are essentially large columns surrounding the recessed falls, allowing huge gaps or holes to vent some of the sound and fury of the rushing water.

Naturally, the falls serves to purify and aerate the recirculating water nicely, as well as to provide a very legitimate, yet not overwhelming point of interest. It was exceedingly well-designed in my opinion, for the reasons listed. Everything in this garden most definitely works as a whole. While outstanding in its own right, any feature here blends with the others to simply give one an uplifting sense of elegance and congruity. It is organic and full of vibrancy, resonating before you catch your own handfuls of wonder. This is the work of the professional’s professional – and it stands as a virtual teaching aid for the intention and meaning of Feng Shui.

Looking back now at “The Hall Of Brocade Clouds” – the main “meeting hall” – we see the pine once again framing the building and surrounded by water. Another look below at the Hall, some water and seen above the hand-carved granite railings and bridge, constructed in China and sent over for assembly by the artisans who actually made them:

Those granite railings and that bridge lead to pretty much my favorite spot in the Garden, “The Moon-Locking Pavilion”, a wonderfully-named gazebo-like structure set in the middle of the lake and offering a spot to see the moon’s reflection in the water around it. There are always people there when I visit and kids flock to it. Notice as well, we have blooms! The very early Citisus plants are popping open some early yellow. In fact, there was a bold and adventurous Forsythia I somehow missed getting a picture of, dangit, but now that I think of it, I do have a gorgeous Camelia to look at following the Moon-Locking Pavilion. Let’s hurry now.

Camelias! OK, I’ll grant you they are not overwhelming or magnificent on their own. What they DO represent for this Winter-weary soul is the obvious – flowers and the coming Spring.

A closer look a desperate man can love:

So, I was excited about the whole darn thing, you betcha. After all, I helped make the place. It is quite an event any time I go, reminiscing about small items of construction, seeing the development of plants, and sometimes answering questions because people are curious about small items of interest. Once engaged, people tend to hang on a while, asking a few more and enduring my own distinct loquaciousness which plagues me owing to my love of people. It’s a true fault. 😉

As the American Indians liked to say: “It was a good day.”

9 thoughts on “Portland Chinese Garden Part 3 – Other Stuff

  1. I can see your pride in this project and seeing it mature into something more established and beautiful. It’s a great space! It’s interesting to see the extensive use of water. Our neighbors brought a Feng Shui consultant from Taiwan to consult on their remodel, and it was pretty amazing how important water played in his recommendations, including the direction the roof gutters emptied (west, towards the ocean, in this case).

  2. Steve, I just wanted to stop by again and say good morning. I’m anxious to return to Portland this summer as I’m due for a visit. I include the Chinese garden, of course, in my INSIDERS’ Guide on Pacific Northwest gardens, but gardens are always changing, so I look forward to seeing it now. best wishes, Alice

  3. Hey James! Yes, I adore visiting all my old projects and this one has a sort of special place. Simply being around the crews who put it together was a unique experience and one I will treasure forever. Yeah, water is huge in Feng Shui – everything stops there, lol. I somehow love that notion, being a water freak in my own designs and maybe I empathize naturally with the philosophical dimensions of Feng Shui, having “come across it honestly”, as it were. 😉

    Not that there is anything dishonest in Feng Shui!

    I need to get over to your blog, dangit. I have been tres busy these days. I love it there, James. You put that cool light-hearted touch on things. I’m a sucker for light hearted!

  4. Alice, you probably have not ventured that deep, but why not enter Crystal Springs Rododendron Garden in my blog search thing and see what you come up with. It’s a local treasure too.

    Of course, you’ll have to tell me when you come. I’ll buy you a tea at the Chinese Garden! (They’re only 10 bucks, lol………j/k)

  5. Hi Steve,
    I enjoyed looking at your post on the Chinese garden this rainy morning. I love how you captured the garden in a way that I felt like I was right there enjoying the pavilions and the water. I love the grotto with the falls. It was a pleasure to visit this magical place on your blog.

  6. I’ve been dying to find a good chinese garden to help me with my theme party i plan to have. It is going to be an outdoor oriental party and needed some garden ideas. This is a great example.

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