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

West Wall

A generously planted bed runs the entire length of the garden's west wall. At the north end an eight- obed golden plate (Fatsia japonica) grows to the left of a small stone path leading to the gardener's shed. Bold, deeply lobed evergreen leaves lend a tropical effect to this shady corner and belie the ability of F. japonica to withstand our cool, Pacific Northwest winters.

Walking south, find one of several species of tree rhododendrons planted throughout the garden. The leathery leaves of this young specimen Rhododendron sinogrande) will mature to nearly two feet in length with silvery, suede-like undersides. R. sinogrande grows to a height of thirty feet with trusses of creamy white blossoms. The Chinese name for rhododendron means 'cuckoo.' It is said that rhodies bloom in concert with the cuckoo's seasonal song.

Planted alongside a white pine (Pinus parviflora) is a dove tree (Davidia involucrata), also known as the ghost or handkerchief tree. These common names reflect the wide range of responses to innumerable pairs of large, drooping white bracts which clasp tiny, pomander-like flowers. Vivid green, heart-shaped leaves provide a foil for this dazzling spring display. D. involucrata is native to Sichuan province in south central China.

Toward the southern end of this bed is a loquat tree (Eriobotrya japonica) whose leaves are taut and stoutly veined with felted, rust-colored undersides. This specimen regularly sets fruit, attesting to the garden's warmer than average temperatures with its protected inner city location and walled exterior. E. japonica has been depicted in Chinese paintings since the Song dynasty (960-1279) and remains a popular ornamental.

Near the end of the west wall is Chinese paper bush (Edgeworthia chrysantha), a deciduous shrub of the daphne family. Round clusters of intoxicatingly fragrant, yellow flowers dangle from the tips of caramel colored branches in late winter. Its stems and bark were once pounded flat to make paper and the flexible branches of E. chrysantha are sometimes tied into artful knots by Chinese gardeners. Another rare form with crayon orange flowers can be seen on the Zither Lake Walk near the chusan palms.

Chinese paper bush with crayon orange flowers