Thursday, October 22, 2009

Portland's Chinese Garden

We're on a long trip right now and stopped in the Portland area to see our friends Roland and Marie. I'd heard about the beautiful Chinese garden in the city, so Marie, Greg, and I visited it on Sunday. It's inspired by the gardens in Suzhou, a city in China famous for its gardens, and built by Chinese artists and artisans.
Being in the garden is like visiting old China, when wealthy and prominant families had beautiful gardens integrated into their homes. Each area of the garden has its own beautifully designed pavement, inlaid with pebbles and tiles. Each has its own theme--the scents of flowers, for example. There's a beautiful pond in the center, with goldfish and lily pads and clumps of reeds along the edges. Walls separating the different areas have artfully place decorated openings that show the neighboring area, giving a sense of space. Even though the garden occupies just a block right in the downtown, it feels like its own peaceful world of beauty, meant for relaxation and meditation.
The leaves of a ginko tree, one of the oldest species of tree on Earth, contrast with the glass-walled modern building just outside the garden. But even though the building is there, the feeling of the garden is stronger, and the building seems more like an optical illusion than something real.

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