On my recent quick trip to Portland, I made sure to visit the Lan Su Chinese Garden. Portland has many gorgeous gardens and parks (I did want to visit the Portland Japanese Garden as well, but didn't have enough time for it)! Luckily, the Lan Su Chinese Garden was not too far away.
The garden's name represents this relationship: sounds from both Portland and Suzhou are combined to form Lan Su. "Lan" (蘭) is also the Chinese word for "Orchid" and "Su" (蘇) is the word for "Arise" or "Awaken," so the garden's name can also be interpreted poetically as
"Garden of Awakening Orchids." (蘭蘇園)
When you first enter the Lan Su Chinese Garden, you are within the Courtyard of Tranquility, pictured above.
Although the Garden appears to be a timeless architectural masterpiece that's hundreds of years old, the beginnings of its building were in the early 1980s, with construction finishing in 2000. As per Wikipedia:
In the early 1980s an effort was started to build a Chinese garden in Portland, and in 1988 Suzhou and Portland became sister cities. Portland mayor Vera Katz continued those efforts in the 1990s and assisted in the non-profit group that operates the garden in finding a site for a garden. The garden was designed by Kuang Zhen and built by 65 artisans from Suzhou on land donated by NW Natural on a 99-year lease; groundbreaking occurred in July 1999, and construction was completed 14 months later at a cost of about $12.8 million. 500 tons of rock, including Chinese scholar's rocks from Lake Tai (Taihu stone), were brought from China and used in the garden. The garden's grand opening was on September 14, 2000. ...In 2010, to mark the 10-year anniversary of the garden, the garden was renamed to Lan Su Chinese Garden. Su represents Suzhou and
Lan represents Portland.
The next building you see is the Hall of Brocade Clouds, pictured above. Each of the buildings in the Lan Su Garden was filled with beautiful art and exhibitions highlighting local or international artists.
The artificial Lake Zither is the centerpiece of the garden, and features colorful varieties of koi and goldfish along with water lilies in bloom.
In the Scholar's Courtyard on the day we visited there was an absolutely wonderful live performance on the guzheng, a traditional Chinese stringed instrument with over 2000 years of history, done by Nancy Bai. You can see her upcoming performance dates at Lan Su here: don't miss out!
Here's a sample guzheng performance in another area of the Lan Su Garden by another artist.
In the Tower of Cosmic Reflections building, you can enjoy some traditional tea and refreshments thanks to local Portland company the Tao of Tea, either inside the gorgeous two-story structure....
Or seated next to the lake itself.
I enjoyed some jasmine green tea and a red bean mooncake. It was delightful.
The garden is decorated with more than 500 tons of Lake Tai Rocks imported from China. These distinctive Tai Hu rock formations are highly prized and add to the beauty of the surroundings.
The garden itself is so peaceful and tranquil that it doesn't feel like you're in the middle of a US metropolis, but rather transported thousands of miles away!
I highly recommend planning a visit to the Lan Su Garden if you're anywhere near Portland. Definitely photowalk worthy @JeffersonGrahamPhoto :)