Plants and Design

Camellias At Dusk In A Chinese Garden

If it isn't already on your radar for the trip you will inevitably take to my fair city, Portland, OR. (enough about theirs), do not choose between this and fill-in-the-blank: Powell's, Multnomah Falls, Forest Park, your sister-in-law's. The name of the game here in any weather is the Classical Chinese Garden.

a tranquil moment in the Chinese Garden

The light was fading, the rain was falling and the leaves played like fish beneath one of the many pavillions that provide respite in the garden. Not a great many maples were still holding their leaves on this 1st day of December, but this little poser kindly obliged. Need sound? Give a listen to this story. photo credit: Ketzel Levine, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption photo credit: Ketzel Levine, NPR

I am no indiscriminate city booster. And never mind that my voice is on the audio tour (snore). I have watched this garden grow and mature since its opening in 2000 and I now consider a good many of its plants my personal friends. As such, I can think of no other garden open to the public where it's absolutely always a good time to visit (OK, so skip it when it's crowded). Of course there are richer moments than others — particularly when fragrances float on the air — but the garden is simply too complex to reveal itself in any single day.

bright orange persimmon hanging off tree

The last fruit on a persimmon tree as shown off by a shower of weeping willow and the peaked roofs that take wing throughout the garden. I like to think of them as directionals to more celestial planes. photo credit: Ketzel Levine, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption photo credit: Ketzel Levine, NPR

I fear you're going to want to know the name of the persimmon tree above. The number of Diospyros species is frightening so as of this writing I can't say for sure, except that because it's in the Chinese garden, it ain't going to be one of our native trees.

delicate pink camellia blossom

It was probably 4:15pm when I stopped by to grab a few pictures, almost too late for natural light but high time for a tripod. Alas, none to be had. This low-growing camellia's blossoms were spread out in such a way that its flowers seemed to float along the ground. photo credit: Ketzel Levine, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption photo credit: Ketzel Levine, NPR

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