I was waiting for a cloudy day to post this photo, because I shot it after a brief rain shower at the Classical Chinese Garden in Portland. This garden is one square block in the middle of the city, but it's in authetic, 13th century, Ming Dynasty-style. Inside its walls is a recreation of a miniature landscape of mountains, waterfalls, tons of rock, lakes, trees and bridges. You feel as if you're in another era, surrounded by contemplative spaces and thoughtfully designed plantings. Bamboo, water plants (like this incredible array of lotuses), magnolia, tree peonies, orchids, tree rhododendrons with paddle-sized leaves .. though my visit was short, I was captivated by the quiet, the space and the forms of both plants and structures. I began to notice patterns of stone and wood, the guided shapes of trees, the columns and balconies. Everything was part of a single design, but if I ever tried to replicate this concept at home, I'm sure I'd be perplexed. Chaos is easy. Simplicity is the test.
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Ginny Smith, a Philadelphia native, joined the Inquirer at 1985. After stints as both reporter and editor in the city and suburbs, she’s been happily writing – and learning - about gardening full time since 2006. She’s won two silver medals of achievement from the national Garden Writers Association and in 2011, Bartram’s Garden honored her with its Green Exemplar award for her stories about “the region’s deeply rooted horticultural history, cultural attractions and bountiful gardens.” She plays in her own – mostly - bountiful garden in East Falls.
Reach Virginia A. at firstname.lastname@example.org .