On the last weekend in March, there was a break in the rainy weather, so we headed to the Lan Su Chinese Garden in downtown Portland. As members of the Portland Zoo, we had free entry for the month of March, as part of a reciprocal local attraction program. Including the zoo, eight organizations are participating this year, each on a different month. So this means, as an added bonus to our zoo membership, we get to visit seven other local attractions. We saved twenty dollars, as the normal admission price for the garden is ten dollars each for adults.
The Lan Su Chinese Garden is a short, fifteen minute walk from our apartment. It's in the heart of Chinatown. Unfortunately, Chinatown is not a nice part of downtown Portland. It's crime ridden, filled with drug addicts and homeless. A huge part of the problem is many of the businesses are closed and boarded up. It was a ghost town.
Oddly enough, considering it was 10am on a Saturday, we did see a few people in the Darcelle XV Showplace. I think they were rehearsing? In any case, via a sign on the door, we learned that this was home to Darcelle, who in 2016 was certified by the Guinness Book of World Records, as the oldest drag queen still performing. In 2016, Darcelle was eighty-five years old. Darcelle might be the utmost Portland thing I've ever heard of: how fabulous.
In the middle of Darcelle, and not much else, stands the Lan Su Chinese Garden. It's an oasis: one city block of tranquility.
Here are a few pictures from out front. Even though the rain had stopped, it was still cold, and I was bundled up. Spring weather in Portland, is like winter in Los Angeles. I've only adjusted a little bit!
Portland's "sister or twin" city is Suzhou, which is known for its gardens. Over sixty artists came over from Suzhou to help build the Lan Su Chinese Garden. I also learned that China is home to the most varieties of Magnolia flowers. Speaking of flowers, we were given a spring plant guide.
I absolutely loved the beautifully arranged stepping stones.
Here are some of the first plants we discovered in the garden.
In the center of the garden, there is a huge pond with Koi fish.
Dan took this panorama (and all of the other pictures). I love how this shot shows both the garden and the modern downtown skyscrapers.
The garden is filled with bridges, pagodas and waterfalls. It felt like every time we turned a corner, we made a new discovery.
Sprinkled through the Lan Su Chinese Garden, are little rooms with cultural and art exhibits.
As a writer and book lover, I was thrilled to find this basket of children's books. How wonderful is it to promote reading with your child in the garden? Love this!
We visited during the first days of spring, after one of the coldest winters on record, but many of the flowers were in full bloom, looking gorgeous.
The coolest things in the garden, were the Lake Tai Rocks. They formed underwater and are shaped by erosion.
The Lan Su Chinese Garden is a true treasure in Portland.