Monday Adventure: Lan Su Chinese Garden

As stated on a panel in one of the pavilions “Most cherished in this mundane world is a place without traffic; truly in the midst of a city there can be mountain and forest.”

Today is a stereotypical Oregon day- overcast, light rain but with sunshine breaking through the clouds. It might not seem like a good day to walk through a garden but I think rain brings an element of introspection to nature so I was pleased.

Lan Su Chinese Garden is considered to be the most authentic Chinese garden outside of China, taking 10 months to build with the help of 65 Chinese artisans, and more than 500 tons of rock from China. The result is an oasis of old world peace and beauty in downtown Portland.

This really is an otherworldly place. While you might hear the traffic from outside inside you are largely lost in contemplation of the rocks, water, and plants- each one with a very specific purpose. Paths wind throughout leading to small courtyards so even though you are not alone there is a lovely feeling of solitude.

The perfect place to sit and listen to the rain.

Tiny courtyard through intricate doorway (each shape has meaning)

Courtyard of tranquility

Drip tiles shaped like bats run along the rooflines- the 5 bats on each represents the 5 blessings in life.

Pavilions showcase the art and architecture of 16th century China.

Outer room of the scholar's study

Glass snuff bottles

Scholar's writing desk

Six panels carved from ginko wood illustrating the original gardens in Suzhou, China

Opening to the Hall of Brocade Clouds where the host would greet his guests

There is so much to see as each element tells a story but instead of feeling overwhelmed you are left in a meditative state. The beginning and end of the journey are nature and its beauty.


Each pathway has its own pattern of stones making it a visual and sensory experience as you feel the stones underfoot. One of my favorite aspects of the gardens!

Waterfall feature formed using Lake Tai rocks

Young oak in spring 

Lake Tai rocks are formed underwater

Extravagent color on a grey day

Penjing trees- some live to be hundreds of years old

Blooming penjing plant- like bonsai trees are trained to grow like living sculptures 


  1. I visited Portland last fall and never made it to this garden. I will make a point to do so on my next visit. I fell in love with the city, and the people were the friendliest bunch I've ever met. Thanks for the tour.

  2. This is so beautiful, so tranquil, lovely photos.

  3. Mila- they are friendly folk! Another garden that is just as lovely is the Japanese Gardens. I think I like those even better.

    If you do make it out this way let me know. There's so much fun stuff to do!


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