corvi (corivax) wrote,

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Portland Suzhou Garden

There is an incredible Chinese Garden in Portland. I'd never been before, but it has definitely jumped onto my list of things to make people see when they're in the area. I'm really unhappy with the photos I took. Maybe it's all too pretty to transfer to film well?

See also: cow's post.

Zither lake, reflections. In the background, you can see some building downtown.

Rhododendron blossom. The garden is a seamless blend of native plants and Chinese ones. There are both native and Chinese rhododendrons in a long bed beside the Courtyard of Tranquility, with pale water-carved stone pillars. No idea whether this one's a native.

Rhododendron, grass, orchid, limestone.

A "mountain" built from weathered limestone. The kinda spindly tree next to the bridge is apparently a pomegranate.

Characters carved alongside the waterfall. These are the oldest form of kanji we know about, chia-ku-wen, the ones carved into turtle shells as charms and divination. They're a lot more primal, a lot more direct. I may try tommorrow to figure out which characters these are.

The waterfall. The whole garden is the size of a city block, so you can hear the waterfall singing to itself wherever you are in it. It's like the Narnia-wardrobe, much larger on the inside than the outside.

Japanese maples: for when you want to set a tree on fire and have it last all year.

The building in back is Knowing the Fish Pavilion. There are fish in Zither Lake, tiny red koi about the length of a finger. You can see the red dots mobbing about in the water. We missed the Festival of Happy Fish by about a week. I suppose the fish are all back to their natural unhappy state, all of them dressing up in orange just to show how different they are, smoking tiny clove cigarettes, and reading Nietzsche written on duckweed leaves.

I really liked this tree (umbrella pine?); it looks like a bonsai.

This is the view from Flowers Bathing in Spring Rain Pavilion. Right beind the Pavilion is the Celestial House of Permeating Fragrance1, which I don't have any pictures of, because it didn't look that interesting. Star jasmine with tiny white flowers, mock orange, gardenias. There is also a wintersweet plant, but it was not in bloom. It all smells very flowery and sweet and perfumy.

More interesting is Phoenix Rest. There is a parasol tree, which the phoenix is supposed to nest in, and in the dark spaces around its roots, spices for any hypothetical phoenix dropping by Portland: wild ginger, tea plant, ginger lily, "forgetting sadness herb" (?), sage. Dark and smoky smell.

Kites inside the Hall of Brocade Clouds. A word about the lights: there were eleven buildings, and most had more than one light, and every single light's silk screen is painted with different poetry on every face.

Moon-Locking Pavilion, plus another shot of that flame-incarnated-as-a-Japanese-maple.I do not know what idiom 'Moon-Locking' is a translation of. I assume it is not meant to be a bizarre pun.

There are eight different words translated 'Pavilion'. This one is a Ting (accent over the i), which means 'stop', or something like it. The pavilion is a stopping-place; it's completely surrounded by water and has walkways leading up to it. Pavilions half on land and half over water or all the way on land have different names. Linguistics trivia! I'm good at all kinds of trivia!

Painted Boat in Misty Rain, example of a 'Fang' (again with an accent), a 'boat-shaped pavilion'.

Food at the teahouse. Edamame (immature soybeans in their pods, which oughta be called something else in this context; 'edamame' is the Japanese term) with boxthorn berries (I think - they called them "wolf berries") and star anise, soy sauce, rice vinegar, ginger sliced thin and transparent like peach skins, black and white sesame seeds. White chrysanthemum petal tea, with dried flowers floating pale and mothlike in the tea. I don't like tea much, but it was exceeding lovely. Also, dried plums with spices inside the paper. Which were so good I conned tylik into taking me to the internation district to look for them today, and bought a large bag. They're like the platonic ideal of root beer, believe it or not. Incredibly good.

Inside the teahouse, a teapot for every occaision? These are all single-cup sized; most of them I could have hid beneath my hands.

I am not tall, but I felt enormous and clumsy inside the teahouse. Food was served on a tiny table, about a foot across, and the most comfortable way for me to sit was to put one knee on either side of the table and sort of sprawl out with my legs in random directions. I did not do that. Or rather, every time I caught myself doing it, I moved. :)

Inside the Tower of Cosmic Reflections, the teahouse. It smelled like coming home to a place you've never been, spice and tea and ginger and things I do not even know the name of, and light curls across your shoulders like fallen leaves.

This is the only picture I took I'm truly happy with. The teahouse did, in fact, look just like this.

[1] I am not making any of these names up. They sound like martial arts moves from a silly movie. But Celestial House of Permeating Frangrance sounds like the polite place to excuse yourself to if you suddenly realize you need to reapply deodorant.

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