We knew we’d arrived when the white wall of the classical Chinese garden came into view. The best place to be on a hot day was seated in shady pavilion, admiring the lotus flowers on the lake. Tranquility settled in as we sat down.
We drifted slowly through the garden. A pleasant scent welcomed us. The inscription over an archway was translated, “Listen to the fragrance.”
What more would we see in a classical Chinese garden?
The trees and plants were carefully selected. The “three friends of winter” – plum, bamboo, and pine – were important elements in this garden and depicted on carved gingko wood panels.
We stepped into a pavilion that would have been a family room. A traditional Confucian altar stood before us with photos to honor deceased relatives.
We stayed at the garden so long we had become thirsty. We entered the Tower of Cosmic Reflections Teahouse.
This was not our first visit to Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland, Oregon. We’d been to the garden on a cold winter’s day thirteen years ago. Our memory was that it was just “nice.” It took a reference to the garden in a book – borrowed from our new friend, Zoe – to spark our interest to return: after all, the “Lan Su is considered the most authentic Suzhou-style garden outside of China.” On this summer visit we took more time, learned and saw more, and we think we even were able to “listen to the fragrance.”