Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Everything looks better with a wall around it...

My in-laws were visiting a couple weekends back and we decided to take them to Portland’s Lan Su Chinese Garden. A few years had passed since we’d visited the garden and it was a lovely day to wander in and out of the dappled sunlight.One of the most striking things about the garden, for me, is that it’s right in the middle of downtown Portland yet feels so secluded (especially if you don’t look up at the tall surrounding buildings).
The walls surrounding and enclosing the garden elevates everything inside to a higher level.
When placed in front of a white wall even the simple leaves of a Cast Iron plant look more elegant than usual don’t you think?
During the visit I added a few new plants to my lust list, and put a couple others back on the list. You know, ones I’d passed up when I had the opportunity to purchase, but after seeing them here I won’t make that mistake again. The new plants I’m lusting after:
Impatiens omeiana (Mt. Omei impatients)…“Introduced in 1983…this herbaceous perennial is a welcome addition to any deep shade area. The red and green foliage makes it a great contrast companion. In late fall small bell shaped yellow grace the plants growth tips. It was collected from Mt. Emei, in southwestern Sichuan Province, a place that has long been a favorite of plant hunters…”
Paris polyphylla...from the Garden’s monthly plant guide “rare Chinese native…relative of the Trillium it is grown for its unusual solitary spider-like flower and bright seed pod. It has a whorl of narrow green leaves below and another whorl of 4-8 narrow green tepals above with long whisker like stamens” (that's it on the right in the first pic)
And the last one, well unfortunately I don’t know what it is! There was no sign but a kind volunteer looked up the name in her gardens species list. She said it was a Lysimachia, which my research shows includes Creeping jenny and Loosetrife which look nothing like this plant.
The full name she gave me was Lysimachia paridiforus, which turns up no search results. Does anyone know what this plant is?
And the ones I won’t pass up again include Podophyllum pleianthum, Chinese Mayapple. These are everywhere in the gardens, shown to great advantage.
And although I left without a picture there were several large leaved Rhododendrons in the garden. I will be getting one.

Although this specimen wasn’t labeled I saw one at Pistils Nursery a few days ago….Japanese Emperor Oak, Quercus dentata ‘Pinnatifida’ an extremely rare oak $50. I won’t be adding this one to my list, but I do love it.
Here it is at Pistils...
I also left the garden with the strong desire to go home and get creative with some of our rocks. Look at all of these wonderful patterns!
In addition to the plants there was another treat. The graphic design junkie in me loved the booklet they gave us when we entered.
It was not only full of useful information but so well designed.
If you find yourself in Portland you really should visit the Lan Su Chinese Garden!


  1. Love that mosaic pebble flooring! One day I will go to Portland and see the Asian gardens. I bet there's a lot more to see also, yes?

  2. Such a wonderful place, and right in our own back yard. Thanks for the reminder.
    Cool impatiens? Well, wash my mouth out with soap!
    Dancing Oaks has a number of truly unusual oaks, among other trees that surprised me.

  3. OMG! I love the pebble mosaics! So nice! It must take such time and patience to get that just right!

  4. Have you been to the Chinese Friendship Garden in Sydney, Australia? It is beautiful!

  5. How funny, I just posted about your mystery plant today. I think they might have the spelling wrong, I found it online under a variation:Lysimachia Paridiformis F. Stenophylla. I see it's for sale at Heronswood, but holy cow, $39 seems steep (link at the end of the comment). I got mine at one of the plant sales at the Chinese Garden a few years back, I keep hoping to see them again. We could try propagating if you want to take a stem.

    They had Impatiens omeiana at Cistus, although they had a variety with leaves tinged with pink - I like this one better. Did you order from Annie's? I got some of the non-pink ones at the HPSO sale, but I can't remember who I got it from. I once passed them up at a Chinese garden sale, and regretted it ever since.

    I saw a Paris quadrifolia at the Leach Botanical Garden, if you like the genus, I don't see these for sale very often, but they had some for sale at their little plant stand outside their front door. They're usually reasonably priced, too. It has been a while, maybe they're gone by now.

  6. Lysimachia Paridiformis F. Stenophylla

    Check out a profile here at another PDX garden blogger (beginning at half way down):

  7. Ooh, I love the mayapples and mosiac patio shots. I'm glad to have a sturdy 6' tall white vinyl fence enclosing my back garden. I'm sure that's not a type of 'wall' that would excite you ;-) But it's nice to have a set boundary where the garden stops.

  8. AnonymousJune 25, 2010

    Good news. The Impatiens [at least] is at Fry Road. I wish the others were. I've seen the Podophyllum in Dancing Oaks' display gardens but not for sale. Or maybe it was but it was so exponentially out of my price range I blocked it from memory, LOL.

    I LOVE the pebble mosaics. Someday I'm going to do one myself. Need more eye candy? This link will do it!

  9. way to rock the graphic design materials as well as plant materials! :)

  10. Pam, more? Oh yes. Between the gardens, the nurseries and people who will want to meet you...well, you better plan a couple of weeks.

    ricki, my thoughts exactly (about the impatiens).

    Laura, and a huge pile of rocks too, in order to have exactly the size and color you need.

    SiestaSister, no...I've never been to Australia! But I would love to go.

    Megan, great minds huh? What a great coincidence of timing. Thank you for all the info, I have to say the non-pink tinged variety of Impatiens is much more appealing. I didn't order from Annies b/c they are 'Not Currently In Production'...although they do not not why.

    Thanks gh1! Interesting timing isn't it?

    VW, boundaries are good. Both to frame what's inside and keep out things (kids and soccer balls?) you don't want inside...

    Grace, you should do some mosaics! Thanks for the link...I believe he's giving a talk at Garden Fever (my local nursery) in the next couple of weeks.

    Andrea, thought you might appreciate that!

  11. Every time I see rock walkways and patios done that way, it makes me want to replicate at home. I saw that impatiens a couple of weeks ago at Pamela Harper's garden and am now on the lookout to add one to my garden.


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