Thursday, November 10, 2011

Portland’s Chinese Garden, in the fall

Last week I found myself in downtown Portland on a sunny morning with a free hour. While it was tempting to do a little shopping (after all it is scarves and sweaters season) instead I headed to the Lan Su Garden, I’d never visited in the fall and thought it might be a good time to see what they were up to. While the official low temperature has been as low as 30 degrees at the Portland Airport these Musa Basjoo were still looking lush, no sign of frost damage. Although some of the stalks had been wrapped. As I walked up to this small potted tree I thought someone had some fun placing red fruits and flowers on it… Nope! Those would be the real thing, Pomegranates… Podophyllum pleianthum The cooler wet weather has the moss filling every available crevice in the exquisite stone work at the garden… The leaves are almost all gone from the Poncirus trifoliata 'flying dragon.' All the better to enjoy the spikes and twisting branches. As well as the fruit! There was only one, and I almost missed it. That’s a tall banana! These tiny (but bright and fragrant!) orange blossoms stopped my tracks; I stood and admired them for a while, not knowing what it was. As luck would have it the next day my friend Kate posted about this tree, Osmanthus fragrans ‘Aurantiacus’ (and several other Osmanthus), on her blog for Portland Monthly Magazine called Plantwise. You should click over and check it out, be sure to look at her photo slide show! The blog Random Acts of Gardening recently did an interview with John Stone, the landscape installation project manager for the garden 12-13 years ago. Click here for that, he's a no-nonsense sort of guy who describes getting the unique trees into the garden. If you’re in Portland you should definitely make a trip to the garden soon, after all fall's beauty is fleeting..


  1. Oh man, now I need an Osmanthus. You have to stop making me need stuff.

  2. Thanks for the wonderful pictures - I absolutely love this place!

  3. did they get rid of that persimmon right next to the pond? that thing is amazing once it drops its leaves.

  4. Wow, those details of the moss on the river stone paving are great. I usually think of moss as a sign of a drainage problem, but those look wonderful.

  5. Eek...thanks for the reminder! I usually go in the fall for the annual "free" day for members of the Japanese Garden. I think I remember having a similar reaction to seeing those persimmons last year!

  6. Heather, oh careful, I might take that as a challenge!

    College Gardener, you are oh so welcome!

    eeldip, well I hate to admit it but if it's still there I didn't even notice it! I know exactly the effect it would have though, one of our neighbors has two of them out in front of their house, amazing. I have to guess the leaves were probably still on (the neighbors are) and that's why I didn't notice? (or maybe I'm just blind).

    ryan, I think all of Portland is a drainage problem this time of year.

    scott, the free day works the other way 'round too right? I need to look into it as I haven't been to the Japanese garden for a couple of years.


Thank you for taking the time to comment. Comment moderation is on (because you know: spam), I will approve and post your comment as soon as possible!