Classical Chinese Garden
NW 3rd and Everett, Portland, OR, 97208, 503-228-8131

Boat-shaped Pavilion

Growing up the north wall of the Boat-shaped Pavilion is Stauntonia hexaphylla. This evergreen vine bears an elegant arrangement of leaves that closely resembles the popular houseplant, Schefflera. White flowers flushed in pink create winter interest. Delicately framing the northwest corner of this building is Camellia transarisanensis. Small, glossy green leaves echo the foliage of Oregon's native huckleberry. In winter, dainty red bracts clasp ivory-colored, almond-sized buds. The small white blooms that follow are slightly bell-shaped.

Contrast C. transarisanensis with the bolder Camellia oleifera farther to the right. Its seeds are pressed for oil in China where it is also grown as a small, ornamental tree. When in bloom, its white flowers are often mistaken for the popular C. sasanqua. According to tradition, the camellia is an auspicious symbol for the Chinese New Year. Women considered them unlucky, however, if worn in the hair since the lengthy time from bud to bloom implied a long wait for the birth of a son.

Low to the ground, in front of the camellias, is Corydalis flexuosa, relative of bleeding heart. Our plant was collected in China in 1988. Used here as a groundcover, waves of neon purple, tubular-shaped flowers accent lacy, fern-like foliage during all but the hottest months of summer.

Take a few steps to the right. Beneath the gnarled old juniper (Juniperus chinensis 'Torulosa') is the bold and fanciful foliage of Podophyllum pleianthum, native to the upland forests of southeast China. Six to nine-sided leaves thrust like shields into the air. Tassels of deep purple flowers dangle beneath when in bloom.

A crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica 'Acoma') anchors the southern end of the Boat-shaped avilion. This Asian native is a favorite in Chinese gardens for attractive crinkled blooms which reach their peak during the hottest days of summer. The Chinese say the mottled, slippery bark of L. indica is an obstacle to the monkeys who attempt to scale its trunk. For this reason it has long been referred to as the monkey tree. This specimen will grace the garden with white flowers beginning in August.