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

Haven West of the Clouds

West of the Hall of Brocade Clouds is an island surrounded by pebbled paths with an aged, flowering cherry tree (Prunus serrulata) situated in its midst. The lower branches of P. serrulata comb through the leaves of Osmanthus fragrans f. aurantiacus. In autumn, the shy orange flowers of this Osmanthus tantalize our senses with the delicious scent of warm apricots. It is but one of the garden's growing collection of osmanthus, which now includes nine species. Many can be observed in this corner of the garden. Osmanthus is a well loved Chinese garden plant also used for scenting tea and flavoring wine. As the floral emblem of fall it is associated with legends about the moon since it blooms at the time of the Chinese mid-autumn or moon festival.

Various species of terrestrial orchids share this quiet setting and are gaining a foothold throughout the garden. They pay homage to our Chinese name, the Garden of Awakening Orchids. As spring advances, watch for the pleated leaves of Bletilla striata. This striking purple orchid bears up well under its Chinese name, white chicken, so named for is fleshy, chalk-colored roots. It was traditionally used to ease the symptoms of respiratory ailments and has only recently become popular in landscape gardens in China.

The windowsill orchid (Pleione sp.) also figures prominently in the orchid collection with small, bamboo-like leaves rising from bright green pseudo-bulbs. This southeast Asian native flourishes both in fertile soil and on tree trunks.

The most revered among Chinese orchids in our collection is the genus Cymbidium. Original cultivars, which have been raised for thousands of years, are unlike the large and colorful hybrids used in floral arrangements today. Their blooms are small and subdued in color, yet intensely fragrant. Chinese artists appreciate the cymbidium for its long, slender leaves which are well-suited to the flowing, single brush strokes considered a hallmark of traditional painting. These orchids may be found in protected sites inside the garden and will also be displayed in pots seasonally.