Portland, Oregon Japanese Garden – Plants and Trees

You will have to prepare for some semi-literate ranting in this post. I do not claim to be an accomplished writer. I am neither trained for it nor gifted at it. But, having said that, this Japanese Garden has unleashed the author in me – the wordsmith, looking for just the appropriate phrase to somehow represent what I see in the sheer tension and pleasure in this garden’s little wonders.

The subtle care lavished on this huge shrub – intense though it is – presents a weird combination of repose and tension as we appreciate the sheer amount of work and detail put into these tiniest of natural matters. The interplay of light amid the branches with all the supple and robust branching patterns remind us of an immaculately groomed royal personage, perhaps Medieval, en route to some ceremony of real importance. The Japanese talk to us through their landscaping, reminding us that such values as cooperating with Nature reward us in ways we never knew before we encounter them anew, freshly-delivered for our now-new observation. Refreshed therefore, we are able to assess the next wonder, like a taste of ginger to refresh the taste buds.

The needles on this Japanese Black Pine resemble background puffs of cloud or smoke, nearly secondary to the dark bark of its branches and the basic and unruly passionate forms Nature, once again, has given to us  as options. The tree therefore becomes a palette for the artist, yet another cooperative venture between man and nature. There is a controlled wildness to the effect, if such a thing seems even possible. For me, it embodies study and repose, a stunning adjustment which never gets old owing to the timelessness of the concept itself and the wildness of Nature’s invariable push towards renewal. There is something essentially poetic about the utter Zen of Japanese Landscape Architecture. Surreal almost, it demands contemplation when you are sat in front of it for any period of time. It “comes to you”, corrosively. And that is a good thing.

The topiary effects of so much of the true Japanese gardening style serves similar purposes. They speak of taming – in the strictest possible ways -in almost apparently cruel manner – the wildness of Nature. But it is also done in service of the garden for human enterprise itself and the plants have proven – much like the dog or horse – to truly not mind so much. The other purpose served is economic, oddly enough. By pruning, we reduce their spatial girth and obstructive size so that these plants allow us to see more. It’s really fairly simple. Nor do we need to acquire others when these get too darn big.

The other effect achieved is strictly artistic. Those shapes provide yet another form – and yet another feast – for the eye. They can be trained to develop along predictable and satisfying lines and, therefore once again return us to the cooperative spirit achieved in these gardens, between man and Nature.

They can return us to primordial forest origins – a trip to an ancient clearing:

Or they can welcome us home to serenity and our own sense of ourselves, our home and our great good fortune in our humaness:

The straight lines and eye-catching geometric’s of Japanese Gardens we get a glimpse of in the above picture. They literally impact modern architecture more than we tend to think. The clean lines and geometric patterns are more than just a pretty face. They nearly always tell a story, full of complexity and depth of thought.

Japanese Gardens are invariably geared to make one contemplative. Unfortunately, they are also geared to making you want to talk about them in a literary style. There are so few other ways in which to speak of them, though. They require attention, detail and a depth. I hope no one minds my rants on the subject. I adore them.

Next time, our final visit to this lovely garden. We will look at the various sculptures there and the amazing gardens of fine white granite. I hope you have enjoyed this little trip.

9 thoughts on “Portland, Oregon Japanese Garden – Plants and Trees

  1. Steve-
    what an awesome post! I appreciate your descriptions of the japanese garden- you made the scene even more vivid than just what the photos have to say.I sense a garden writer in our midst.

  2. You could be right. There’s a scary prospect, lol. Thanks for the visit Shirley, I’ve enjoyed visiting you as well. You thief!

  3. Steve,

    I see you have a new addy. I do as well.

    I was fortunate to visit Portland once and visited the rose, Japanese, and Chinese gardens. I enjoyed visitng the Japanese Garden again via your post.


  4. Hi Donna, yeah, I was away also for a bit so I lost some steam on my postings. I changed the rerouting of the blog in Blogspot, I believe, since it seemed such a pain the way it was set up. It’s the same old addy, though.

    Great to see you and thanks for taking a look. I am enjoying yours, as always.

  5. The comment from “compost in my shoe” is from a new blogger (to me) who is an excellent writer with a great sense of humor and some style. (no charge);-)

    I have mined all I could to discover his name but with no luck so far and now I have to get back to work. Thank you so much for your comments.

    Inside the blog here are some explanations of what occurred during the construction of the local Chinese Garden which I worked on in the initial phases. If you missed that, make sure you include it as well on your next visit! Oh – and don’t feel bad about missing the Japanese Garden. I’ve lived here for 6 years and last weekend was my first visit!

  6. You bet I can, Annette. I can’t wait.

    Annette (Anat, actually) is one of my favorite people in the galaxy. She is as responsible for this blog as I am, having led me step-by-faltering step through every minute of its existence. A webmistress and a gorgeous mother of two bouncing little boys, with a hubby who gathers a crowd of admiring ladies, (lol!), she is visiting here next Spring – their first trip to America. I’ve known her long enough that we celebrate the anniversary of out first meeting.

    Her personal site is http:www.IsraeliMom.org where she shows off her gorgeous family and gives insight into life in Israel.

    Don’t ask her questions about me, though. She knows me too well. 😉

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