Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Portland Japanese Garden

We would normally hesitate before paying admission to visit a garden in the wintertime, but Japanese gardeners (who work in a climate not unlike western Oregon's) have learned to design landscapes that soothe and delight the eye year-round. They build gardens with "good bones," visually strong hardscapes that give artistry and structure even when many of the plants are dormant.
Northwesterners are fortunate to have an authentic 5.5-acre Japanese Garden tucked into the hills west of Downtown Portland. Consisting of five separate but connected gardens, this is a place of peace and beauty in any season. Of course, the raked-stone "zen" garden never changes, except for the odd wind-blown leaf. The Flat Garden, just outside the Pavilion, is also especially lovely whatever the weather, and the secluded Tea Garden is a serene hideaway any time of year. Our favorite spot, though, is always the Strolling Pond Garden. We could spend hours watching the enormous, colorful koi just beneath the water's surface.

If You Visit the Garden
The Japanese Garden is next to the Portland Rose Test Garden; in fact, they share an often-crowded parking area. It is easily accessed from West Burnside; there is a printable map on the city's website. Be prepared to feed the newfangled parking fee machines. TriMet bus # 63 runs from downtown to the Rose Garden area, so it is possible to leave your car behind.

Don't bring the dogs and the barbecue; this isn't that kind of garden. Admission for adults is $9.50. Bring your camera and plan for a few peaceful hours in Japan. Be advised that the garden closes at 4:00 in the winter, so come early.

Sadly, only part of
the garden is fully accessible. The Flat Garden between the entry and the Pavilion is open to all. Many of the other areas would be difficult or impossible to navigate without steady feet. On the other hand, there are worse things than spending a few hours among the exquisitely shaped trees and carefully placed stones of the Flat Garden.

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