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

Knowing the Fish Pavilion

Pass through the blossom-shaped doorway and proceed right to Knowing the Fish Pavilion. Winter daphne (Daphne odora 'Aureomarginata') is grouped in staggered plantings along the lake edge. This chubby, evergreen shrub explodes with fragrant clusters of creamy pink flowers in late winter, filling the air with a rich orange blossom scent. The Chinese first named this plant "sleeping scent." Legend tells of a monk who fell asleep beneath the cliffs of Lushan mountain and dreamt of an impossibly sweet fragrance. On awakening, he found he had pillowed his head next to D. odora.

Exit the pavilion and continue south. To the left, where the pebbled path begins to turn, grows wild ginger (Asarum splendens). This shade-loving groundcover has dramatic, arrow-shaped foliage marbled with silver and is often mistaken for cyclamen by visitors. Its strange, yet intriguing flowers are fleshy, cup-shaped receptacles, often concealed beneath the leaves.

Opposite A. splendens a small grove of moso bamboo (Phyllostachys heterocycla var. pubescens) soars skyward against a canvas of white walls and undulating roof tiles. Moso is the largest of the timber bamboo. It provides durable building material for construction and is also harvested for its edible shoots. The Chinese refer to bamboo as the "cradle to grave" plant for its versatility. The narrow columns of stone set among these bamboos represent their newly emerging shoots. Farther down the path is heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica). While actually a relative of our native Oregon grape, N. domestica convincingly masquerades as bamboo with cane-like stems and fine-textured foliage. In China, it is used to decorate altars, hence the common name. N. domestica also lends warmth to winter landscapes with seasonal red and orange foliage.

Before reaching the east end of the pebbled path, note the southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) on the left. M. grandiflora is native to the southern U.S. and was introduced to China during the 19th century. It has become so common in gardens and public plantings there that it is embraced as a native plant. The Chinese love its glossy leaves with coppery undersides and fragrant, lotus-like flowers.

wild ginger (Asarum splendens)

southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)