Timber Press, Lan Su Garden

The first full day of the recent Garden Bloggers Fling in Portland, Oregon started with an 8 AM walk from the hotel to the offices of Timber Press, publishers of so many fantastic gardening books.

You won't see any photos of the walk over there, or images of the building or offices themselves from me as I could say I'm usually more interested in the experience itself than documenting every aspect of it. (I could say that, but maybe I just get lazy sometimes?)


The gathering room at Timber press was soon bursting with bloggers...

...and I suspect that the bookshelves crammed with so many wonderful Timber Press titles (there's "Bamboo for Gardens"on the left -- I didn't realize it was in this shot!)...

...were not the only horizontal surfaces sagging this morning. I wonder if that room had ever held so many people before?

After meeting some authors, enjoying a light breakfast, and lots of chatting about our favorite books, we headed out for the nearby Lan Su Chinese Garden:

Tucked into the corner of downtown Portland, this was a good-sized garden with plenty of detail and many corners to discover.

Stone is important here, and these foot-massaging paths were as beautiful as anything:

Moss everywhere there was shade. I know this is typical in the Pacific Northwest, but it's just so strange and wonderful to me!

The non-plant details really make a garden for me, and there was plenty to see in this area:

Also, water. So essential to bring a garden to life (literally and emotionally):

I feel like there should have been more fish here, but perhaps they were all hiding under the shade-providing foliage? It was quite hot this morning already...

There were plenty of interesting plants (besides moss), but only a few of the photos made the cut -- most were quite unremarkable:

More of the architectural details. For me the overall view of a garden is important, but equally so are the details, the things you see next to you when sitting in a shady corner. I like gardens that I want to spend time in, and having lots of things to discover up close is the way to make me want to stay!

Great views as you move through a garden are so important too. Did I mention that I like discovering things in a garden? I love rounding a corner and being surprised by what I see.

I'm going to close on sort of a negative note: the rocks. I know that the well-eroded boulders found in Chinese gardens are natural, essential, and beloved by many:

To me though, they just look too... intricate. Too fussy. What I love about boulders in a garden is that they are big, solid, and chunky. A break from the high-frequency textures of foliage as well as a complementary color, a way to offset the greens.

These boulders though, well, they have too many details. They don't let my eye rest, don't seem as solid being so full of holes. Also, in this case at least they hold too much moss, reducing the impact of a grey or white or brown lump of rock. (The Chinese garden at the Missouri Botanical Garden has boulders like this too, and I don't like them either!)

But I accept these boulders as part of any Chinese garden, and I really liked the Lan Su Garden. A great choice for the first garden of the Fling!


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Mark and Gaz  – (July 17, 2014 at 7:36 PM)  

Interesting take on the Lan Su Garden with focus on some of the details instead of just overall shots. The stone patterns on the pathways are particularly interesting.

danger garden  – (July 17, 2014 at 10:33 PM)  

You took many great photos of the garden, I love them all. Yes there are many fish, I do think they were seeking refuge. Usually they're quite willing to great visitors.

Anonymous –   – (July 28, 2014 at 12:16 AM)  

Alan - I'm with you on the details! The Lan Su garden has just an endless supply of intricate loveliness. I see new things every time I visit, but I also love the rich plant life and the textural inspirations that dwells within. Such a magical place!

Pam/Digging  – (August 2, 2014 at 10:33 PM)  

You got quite a lot of nice photos out of a bright, crowded garden visit -- well done. I'm intrigued by your critique of the boulders at this garden. I really have never given types of rocks that much thought before, but I will be looking at them more carefully from now on. Here in central Texas we have limestone, and it holey, like the Lan Su rocks. We also have some granite out in the Hill Country, which is more the type of solid, rounded stone you prefer.

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