After coming home and looking through all the photos I had taken from my visit to Portland’s Lan Su Chinese Garden, I felt like I went at the perfect time of year. Although many of the deciduous plants and perennials were just starting to leaf out, there seemed to be an emphasis on early spring bloomers (with fragrance!) and an abundance of evergreen plants as well, which kept me from feeling as though I was missing out on the full garden experience. I’ll be honest, I actually visited the garden last year, but in late March all the same. After not getting around to sharing my journey within the first month or two following I thought it would be best to wait to post anything until it was the same time of year again. Besides, now I can lure people to my blog with the pitch that this post is a year in the making; did it work on you?
Outside the garden I was led in by an intoxicating fragrance. At first I could not determine what it was but later found out it was a Korean Spice Viburnum (didn’t get a pic). What a great fragrance. I’ve considered adding one to my yard for that feature alone. Walking closer to the entrance I found this bright mix of evergreen plants: Fragrant Sweet Box (Sarcococca ruscifolia, the green shrub, normally planted in some shade but here in full sun if I recall correctly), Golden Variegated Sweet Flag (Acorus gramineus ‘Ogon‘), Black Mondo Grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’) and Persian Chocolate Moneywort (Lysimachia congestiflora ‘Persian Chocolate‘).
Coming inside the main entrance there was an architecturally-appealing and inviting opening, with Apple Blossom Evergreen Clematis (Clematis armandii ‘Apple Blossom’) hanging above and in full bloom.
Inside the main garden there is a huge pond.
I was pleasantly surprised to see a Great Blue Heron in downtown Portland, looking to snatch a meal.
There were lots of Rhododendrons…
I’m not a huge fan of rhodies (maybe too commonplace here), but this specimen really caught my eye with it’s irregularly long elliptical leaves. When backlit, these had a dramatic look.
I love Stewartias. I’m guessing this slow-growing tree has been anchored here for some time.
I love this scene of Liriope with the lilac-blooming Corydalis and the somewhat rare, white-blooming Bergenia emeiensis. This species of Bergenia does not appear to develop any winter color, which may be preferable for many gardeners. You definitely can’t complain about large foliage that dark green and glossy, and on a plant that will spread nicely. I love the stonework on these pathways as well, such an attention to detail.
I was drawn by fragrance once again (can you tell that’s a theme here?) to this Paper Bush (Edgeworthia chrysantha). It is a beautiful shrub in bloom and the bark and structure is also appealing. If I was to get one in my yard I would go for the red-flowering variety, ‘Red Dragon’.
I loved this evergreen plant with the twisted foliage. Not sure what it is though, let me know if you do! Certain features remind me of a rhodie, but I’ve never seen one so exotic looking, if it is.
If the sun’s coming out, I will too…
Quicksilver Wild Chinese Ginger (Asarum splendens ‘Quicksilver’) around the base of a tree.
I loved the view from underneath this pine, with the light penetrating through the cover of needles and then dancing along the edges of these contorted branches.
The cheery bloom of a Japanese Rose (Kerria japonica).
Kerria japonica‘s arching stems reaching for a drink.
Fringe flowers (Lorepetalum chinense) doing their thing. These large shrubs add great color year-round.
Dog? Lion? Or beast? Poor guy has quite the short, front right leg.
I loved the glossy green leaves of the Chinese Mayapple (Podophyllum pleianthum), just starting to emerge from its slumber.
These upright stony figures decorated the garden adding a lot of character. I couldn’t tell if they were natural or man-made, obviously the holes are unnatural.
This was a pleasant plant grouping, with the pine and magnolia trees behind the mature Chinese Mahonia (Mahonia fortunei) in the foreground, then flanked by the cast-iron plant (Aspidistra genus) and then by the Variegated Winter Daphne (Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’), which was in bloom and offering up its wonderful fragrance.
This shot also shows the nearby Paper Bush better. My nose was on sensory overload.
The Magnolia blooms were getting ready to open.
These Camellia blooms were stunning because each one was about the size of my hand. Not as easy to tell just by looking at the photos here.
This twisted fellow was sentenced to a life in a pot, and was on display towards the end of our journey, a Flying Dragon Trifoliate Orange (Poncirus trifoliata ‘Flying Dragon’).
If you’ve been wanting to visit the Lan Su Chinese Garden, now would be a great time to go. When I went last year they were also having a plant sale, which was on an adjacent block, and I believe it’s an annual event they have there.