Friday, July 29, 2011

Lan Su Chinese Garden

Lan Su Chinese Garden, A. Courtyard of Tranquility. May 2011

Lan Su Chinese Garden, D. Knowing the Fish Pavilion & E. Reflections in Clear Ripples (also known as the lounge house) May 2011

Lan Su Chinese Garden, F. Flowers Bathing in Spring Rain (6 panels carved from Ginkgo wood) May 2011

Lan Su Chinese Garden, Mahonia fortunei & Podophyllum pleianthum. May 2011

Lan Su Chinese Garden, J. Tower of Cosmic Reflections (tea house) May 2011 

 Lan Su Chinese Garden, Rosa x odorata 'Mutabilis' May 2011

 Lan Su Chinese Garden, I. Moon Lacking Pavilion & L. Painted Boat in Misty Rain. May 2011

The Lan Su Chinese Garden occupies an entire city block in Chinatown, very near Downtown Portland, Oregon.  It is such an amazing place that it really feels as though you have stepped into a different world.  The brochure is a small book to guide your journey.  Let's take the tour, using the brochure to instruct us.  I have abbreviated it considerably.

A. Courtyard of Tranquility: It's 16th century China, & you're standing in the entry courtyard of the private home & garden of a wealthy government official & scholar.  The garden around you is his spiritual utopia, a peaceful & soothing place designed to help him escape the problems of everyday life & discover his true self by connecting with nature.

B. Hall of Brocade Clouds: This is where the host meets & entertains guests.  Take a moment to gaze through the beautifully-framed lattice doors & windows to the open view of the garden.

C. Terrace: Scholars aspired to be hermits in the mountains, surrounded by nature.  Since affairs of state & family required living in the city, nature was brought to them on a smaller scale.

D. Knowing the Fish Pavilion:  The name comes from a conversation between 2 ancient scholars.  Scholar #1, 'The fish look happy.'  Scholar #2, 'You aren't a fish.  How do you know they're happy?'  Scholar #1, 'You aren't me.  How do you know I don't know they're happy?'

E. Reflections in Clear Ripples: In this room, also known as the lounge house, the scholar's family would gather for music, painting or playing games such as mahjong.

F. Flowers Bathing in Spring Rain:  6 panels carved from Ginkgo wood illustrate actual ancient gardens in Portland's sister city of Suzhou.

G. Scholar's Courtyard: This is an extension of the scholar's study, a quiet place for reflection & inspiration.  Plum trees near the study's entrance blossom early, signaling the coming of spring & symbolizing endurance & hope.

H.  Scholar's Study:  The study was a refuge, a place of comfort where the men of the family wrote poetry, practiced calligraphy, read, entertained fellow scholars & took naps.

I.  Moon Locking Pavilion:  On a clear night, your can see the reflection of the moon in the center of the lake, locked in by the pavilion's shadow.

J.  Tower of Cosmic Reflections:  Women of the house spent the day in this 2-story building from which they could view the garden & surrounding city.  At Lan Su, tea & snacks are served here.

K.  Rock Mountain & Waterfall:  The rockery is designed to appear as rugged mountains in the distance, complete with waterfalls & cascading streams.

L.  Painted Boat in Misty Rain:  This pavilion represents the boat of friendship that departed from Suzhou, made its way across the ocean & eventually docked in Portland.  From inside, you're meant to feel as if you're anchored on shore, rocked gently by small waves.

The Lan Su Chinese Garden also features a botanical collection of over 400 species & cultivars found in China.  Most of them are labeled.  The garden feels very lush with plants. Altogether, it is a very charming experience.

Here is a slideshow of more photos from the Lan Su Chinese Garden.
 Map of the Lan Su Chinese Garden

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