February 27 -- Portland is growing and thriving, with lots of new construction. The light rail hasn't yet got to the airport, but it will. Buildings in the historic section have been gutted and are being reconstructed from the inside out. Maps can't keep up with changes and developments. The Classical Chinese Garden was just finished in November, built with the aid of gardeners from Portland's sister city, Suzhou. The leaflet says it's "the largest authentic urban Suzhou-style garden ever created outside China". It's marvelous! Suzhou-style Chinese garden
The Garden takes up a city block, and is walled, but the wall is peppered with Chinese windows and set back from the sidewalk in several places. So a visitor walking along the street can enjoy some of the garden, while a visitor within the garden can look out through the windows and see the trees and flowers extend to the exterior.
There are two features which make this garden beautiful beyond imagination. First, the nearly equal mixture of brown and red wooden buildings, grey stone roofs, walks, walls and standing rocks, blue waterfalls and a pond, and green ornamental and flowering trees and plants provides a visual balance and interest that far surpasses a typical western garden. Second, the seemingly infinite variety of views, from every point within this city block to every other point, surprise and delight the garden visitor. We were fortunate to view this garden in the off season; the sense of peacefulness was only slightly reduced by the few visitors.
We followed stone walkways through courtyards and open rooms, pausing to listen to the sound of running water and appreciate the beautiful views. Nearly Round door an hour passed quickly by. We didn't stay for tea, although there is a tea house. There's also a nice store, and guided tours which would help local gardeners understand more and get started with Chinese gardening techniques. There will be koi in the pool when the pH is stabilized and a booklet is being written showing the translation of the Chinese characters. Our pictures capture some of the charm of this remarkable garden.
In the 1940s a Portland newspaper columnist, gazing out his office window, saw an empty two foot square of concrete curbing. The street lamp that was to have been placed there never arrived, so he planted some flowers, and wrote about the activity in his newspaper column, entitled Mill Ends. We drove by the spot, which was later made into an official city park (the smallest in the world, of course) and named Mill Ends Park. The gardeners keep it watered and full of spring flowers.