Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Portland Japanese Garden: The Flat Garden

It was brutal. Portland was suffering through an atypical hot summer week that was registering 95 degrees and above. My friend and I decided to come around 5PM when the day should start getting somewhat cooler. I wasn't sure about spending some time in the garden. I wanted shade, will there be shade, please let there be shade. We were waiting at the parking lot for the open air shuttle bus to bring us to the garden entrance, otherwise it would be a 10 minute climb up in very hot weather. I consider myself a delicate, hothouse flower, I am waiting for the van. We paid our $8 entrance fee, got a map and walked in. The very first building we saw was a small gift shop. Okay, keep walking. We walked to our left to look for the Pavilion typically made of wood and Shoji screens and it has a verandah. Inside was another gift shop, forget that, because in front of the pavilion was The Flat Garden.

Now to me a garden has lots of flowers and bushes. But looking at The Flat Garden, your eye looks first at the sand design and then you notice how the shrubs and small trees and additional sculptures frame it. The sand is raked smooth except around some bit of ground which has some shape. You are immediately made to ponder over this garden in serenity. You just can't help it. It's stunning. The Pavilion provided some shade and there were chairs on the veranda to encourage you to sit and contemplate. In the heat, the white sand got me thinking about vanilla ice cream.

I'm not sure that was what the gardeners had in mind, but I thought that eating an ice cream cone on a hot day looking at the garden was a nice way to spend a few minutes.

From there I sauntered over to the other gardens.  This five acre park seems so secluded.  You wouldn't know that you're in the middle of the city.  Granted, Portland is not urban by New York City or Chicago standards but it is still a city of some size.  Approximately 200,000 people live here.  traffic is not bad at all.  You can go from one end to the other of the city in approximately 20 minutes.

There are four other parks within this enclave.  I've attached pictures which of course doesn't do justice to it but it gives you a good idea of what you can find which I hope will encourage you visit Portland's Japanese Garden.

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