There is an enchanted garden inside our city’s busy and hectic downtown limits. It’s a tranquil, peaceful oasis transporting you from its surroundings: concrete, traffic, and the realities of city living. Step inside the sizable gates and you’re in a haven of quiet beauty.  It’s Lan Su Chinese Garden; the most authentic Chinese garden outside China, and it is a must-see for you and the kidlets.

lscg11Plants & Birds & Rocks & Things
Built by artisans from Suzhou – our sister city in China and home of the famous Ancient Gardens – this magical greenspace honors 2000 years of history and wonder by combining architecture, art, and nature to create perfect harmony.  Perfect harmony at the corner of NW Everett and 2nd? Uh huh. Go and see for yourself.

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There are stone paths to follow, koi to watch, plants, flowers and trees to inspire, and temples, statues, footbridges and a teahouse to visit. You can take in photography exhibits, feng shui discussions or just enjoy a self-guided (or really a kiddo-guided) tour at your, err…their own kidfabulous pace.  We’re partial to visiting in fall and winter, which may seem counterintuitive for a garden. But this one’s got it going on all year long. Plus with Chinese New Year merriment happening in February each year (the lantern fest is a must attend), there is always something interesting to see in our gloomier months.

lscg2Strike a (Juxta)Pose
Outside it’s noisy, busy and frenetic. Inside it’s practically another planet. You may feel like you’ve jumped from one continent to another or maybe traveled back in time. However it hits you, it is inspiring space and it is a pretty place to be. You cannot help but walk slower, breathe deeper and maybe even feel present in the moment.

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The plants here are amazing; bamboo, chrysanthemum, camellias and rhodys to name but a few. Apparently, China has a tremendous influence on our flora and here we can see just how long they have labored for this beauty and cultivated botanical tradition. Try not to get chills learning about the monks who tended incredibly delicate gardens behind huge fort-like walls thousands of years ago.

lscg4The Name Game
The Ancient Gardens of the Ming Dynasty were built to inspire creativity and personal growth. Who doesn’t want to get a little more of that? Even the name of the garden has beauty – it’s a combination of the sister cities – Portland and Suzhou – so Lan Su. Plus Lan means orchid in Chinese and Su means awaken or arise. Garden of Awakening Orchids? Sounds splendid. This educational and enlightening glimpse into Chinese culture allows for an hour, an afternoon or maybe mere minutes away from the day-to-day with every step. Chinese history, architecture and art are on display at every turn. Let it soothe you and chase those city-induced blues away.  And the staff is uber-kind to the littles.

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Things to Know
Lan Su Chinese Garden welcomes one and all every day of the year from 10:00 – 5:00 pm (October to April, then open til 6:00 in the summer) – except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day.  Pricing for admission runs $9.50 for adults, $8.50 for seniors over 62, $7 for kids aged 6-college, and it’s free for 5s and under.  There’s a family pass for $28 for 2 adults and 2 kiddos (ages 6 and up). Some events are included with admission and others are add-ons so check the web site or ask upon arrival. Drinks with lids and snacks for babies and toddlers are allowed. Memberships are available for families and in November LSCG rocks a reciprocal switcheroo with Japanese Garden members.

Lan Su Chinese Garden
239 NW Everett Street
Portland, Or 97209
503-228-8131

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What’s your favorite thing about Lan Su Chinese Garden? Tell us below!

— Liz Overson

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Thank you for the photos Lan Su Chinese Garden Facebook page.