Books & Media

Listen to the Fragrance

The Portland Classical Chinese Garden, Lan Su Yuan, grew out of a friendship between the sister cities of Portland, Oregon and Suzhou, a Chinese city renowned for its ancient gardens. Lan Su Yuan - poetically named the Garden of Awakening Orchids - is a microcosm of nature’s splendors contained in an urban setting. Created to nurture and inspire all who visit, this classical garden is little changed from what might have greeted visitors during China’s Ming dynasty.

In Chinese tradition, garden landscape without poetry is not complete, and Lan Su Yuan is graced with a wealth of poetic inscriptions. In Listen to the Fragrance, Professor Charles Wu provides translation and insightful commentary, guiding us on a literary tour of the garden and revealing hidden meaning among its flowers, moving water, Lake Tai rocks, and elegant architecture. With stories and legends from ancient dynasties and images of scenic wonders from China’s vast history, the inscriptions deepen our appreciation of Lan Su Yuan’s beauty. The rich canon of classical Chinese poetry enhances the garden as a new setting for China’s enduring culture.

Listen to the Fragrance will engage readers in the poetic conversation deeply embedded within the landscape of classical Chinese gardens.

Gardens in China by Peter Valder

With their distinctive characteristics, the gardens of China are among the most fascinating in the world.  Many excellent books have been written about them but, on the whole, they have dealt only with the surviving imperial gardens and a selection of those of retired officials.  Rarely are the fascinating courtyards and gardens of temples mentioned, nor the evocative enclosures of ancient burial grounds and imperial tombs – to say nothing of the public parks, botanical gardens and arboreta, most of which have sprung up since 1949.

In this book Peter Valder describes over 200 gardens in China which he has visited, including representatives of all types.  In order to introduce them, he looks at how over the years Western visitors have perceived and come to understand Chinese gardens, and for each site provides notes on its location, history and plants.  A description of more than 200 imperial, private, temple, botanical and public gardens in China, including notes on their history and significance, together with 500 color photographs.


The Garden Plants of China by Peter Valder

This book is an essential reference for everyone who grows or is given pleasure by the garden plants of China, for those who like to read about them or admire their depictions in Chinese paintings and decorative art, for those interested in garden history, and for visitors to China with an interest in plants, gardens, and Chinese culture in general.


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Portland Classical Chinese Garden

NW 3rd & Everett Portland, OR 97209 503.228.8131