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Monday, November 12, 2012

Autumn at The Portland Japanese Garden

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Ever since moving to Portland several years ago, the Portland Japanese Garden has been one of my favorite places in the city. When I lived downtown, I was a member of the garden, and used to walk up to visit quite a lot. When the Autumn color was at its peak, I'd often take a week off work and go up every morning, hoping to get some good photos. I had originally planned on visiting this weekend to take some new photos for a post, since today (11/12) is their Free Admission day.

Unfortunately, my camera stopped working this weekend...so I was unable to actually take any photos. Even though my camera is in the shop (and can hopefully be fixed for less than the cost of a new camera), I still wanted to post on the garden...so this post actually contains photos taken over the past few years.

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This gate leading to a short path which winds up through Forest Park to the actual entrance of the Garden.

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Once inside the walled garden, you can go in several different directions, but I almost always veer to the right, heading down to the lake which is spanned at is far end by the Moon Bridge.

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During fall, the color can be almost overwhelming...it's hard to take it all in...but don't forget to stop on occasion to admire the details.

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Koi swim languidly in most of the larger ponds.

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The Moon Bridge beckons you to cross to the other side.

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Or you can stroll through an allee of arching Maple branches.

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Since it's autumn...you can almost always count on jewels of moisture on the leaves.

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The atmosphere in the Japanese Garden is one of serenity.

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In spite of the amazing hardscape details, the plants are always the focus for me.

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Crossing over the Moon Bridge, this is the view to your right...the numerous evergreens are especially useful as a foil to the blazing hues of changing leaves.

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Amazingly, the grounds crew clears off many of the leaves several times a week...but if you get there early enough (or on the right day) you can see the leaves that have fallen, carpeting every surface.

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If you come on a day when the leaves have been cleared, however, you do get a better view of the Koi.

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Koi or no Koi, Maples are the stars of this garden.

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I love this part of the garden...the pond is almost always full of Koi...and the waterfall seems almost to have sprung from the side of the mountain.

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Sometimes it almost seems as if the Garden has been dressed like a set...as fallen leaves are strewn across the paths.

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Don't forget to look up, though...or you'll miss the other part of the show.

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If you have any choice, try to go on an overcast day...the soft light filters through the canopy, becoming soft and diffuse.

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This soft, even lighting makes colors seem almost unreal in their vibrancy...and glare is reduced...give scenes a hyper-clarity.

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Times moves differently here...and you can't help but notice the artistry of nature.

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Nor can you overlook the skill of the craftsmen who created this garden.

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Sometimes the leaves seem to fall into an unreal pattern...perfectly framing the views.

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Some of the garden's greatest assets are the large conifers surrounding it, creating a feeling of seclusion...it's like you've stumbled upon a secret clearing in a vast, ancient wood.

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The garden is largely about contrast...the dark of the wood versus the light of sunlit foliage.

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Hard, immobile stone and rock versus the soft caress of deciduous foliage.

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No matter where you are in the garden, there is always a path enticing you further.

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Around every corner, there are surprising vignettes of simple beauty.

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So, visit now, if you can, because today it's FREE, and because if you don't, the trees will go from looking like this...

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to looking like this :-)

83 comments:

  1. GORGEOUS photos . I hope you can get your camera back in service.

    I am kicking myself for skipping this garden on our trip to Oregon this past September.......

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    1. If it makes you feel better, Sue, it probably wasn't in fall color yet...it usually doesn't start to really peak until mid-October ;-)

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  2. Thank you, thank you and thank you for letting us see this beautiful garden in his capacity autumn.
    The maples have the wonderful colors and the leaves at their feet
    seem to be arranged by an artist.
    You are a lucky person to be able to enjoy such beauty.
    I hope your camera will soon be in place and you
    can capture as soon as other places so special.
    Ciao
    Loretta

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    1. Hi Loretta, I totally agree...it's a place of great beauty...and I really hope my camera is fixed sooner, rather than later!

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  3. It is stunning. I hope you get your camera back soon!

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  4. If I wasn't into arid plants, a Japanese garden would be what I would want. Stunning photos.

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    1. They really are lovely...although I doubt I'd have the discipline to have one myself!

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  5. Those colors and twisted forms are amazing. But so is seeing mature, healthy Japanese Maple trees, and of so many foliage selections...people try so hard here to grow them, and they are always scorched and stunted.

    The repetition of green mounds - shrubs, mosses, etc is almost as appealing to me as the beads of water on arching stems. And the thought of grilled salmon with a Portlandia brew after, of course.....

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    1. It's so true...this is one place they are very happy, our climate just suits them so well...not that there aren't still tortured plants in other parts of town!

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  6. Sorry, were there words in this post? I couldn't take my eyes off the photos. I don't care what year they were taken, their beauty is timeless. So wonderful!

    Makes me worry that if I ever get to visit this garden I'll go at the "wrong" time and be disappointed, as these photos set a very high standard. Best thing I'll see today for sure!

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    1. You will definitely want to visit in the Fall, Alan. It's pleasant during the other seasons, but fall is when it is STUNNING!!!

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  7. What a richness, deepness and lush of colors! Some compositions are just stunning. Thanks for sharing these beautiful feelings. Your pictures really speak to me. I hope your camera will be back in your hands soon.

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  8. Beautiful pictures Scott! I visited last Wednesday (post coming soon) and most of the trees were past their prime. Still gorgeous but I was a touch too late for maximum color.

    Good luck with the camera fix. We come to rely on our tools (camera, computer, smart phone) so much it's quite jolting when there is a hiccup!

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    1. It's always so tricky, trying to figure out when the color will peak...especially since it's such a distinct little micro-climate up there.

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  9. I have only been there once, and it was too early in Autumn to see those kinds of beautiful colors. Thank you for posting this, and it is stunning!

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    1. That's a bummer, Heather...it can be very tricky to find that particular time where the color is really at it's peak...but when it is, it knocks your socks off ;-)

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  10. The fall colors are absolutely gorgeous. Though I have to say Japanese gardens in general leave me a little cold. It could just be my need for constant riots of flowery color. Though no one could complain about the lack of color in this garden during this season. Judy's camera is also on the fritz, and she had to go on a business trip yesterday. I'm taking the camera to the shop later today for her.

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    1. I agree, Jason, I love visiting them, but could never have one myself...they are a bit too structured...and yes, I don't care how un-cool it is to say it...I WANT FLOWERS in my garden!

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  11. Beautiful Pics! I've been to the Japanese Gardens a couple times, but didn't make it this fall. I definitely need to put that on my to do list for next October.

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    1. You must go, Jennifer, it's one of the best stops in town :-)

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  12. Thank Heaven you had such a rich backlog of photos to use for this post. Hope the camera fix is easy and cheap, you without a camera is not worth contemplating. This garden seems much bigger and more lush than our Japanese Garden here in Seattle. I seem to remember ours being much more spare and stylized.

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    1. Sadly, I've never been to the Seattle garden...must get up there!

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  13. Simply magical. I'm glad you decided to post your 'old photographs', they're wonderful. Christina

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    1. Thanks, Christina...I really tend to go crazy taking pictures up there...so I had quite a few to choose from ;-)

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  14. Stunning photography!
    By the way, found you via A Tidewater Gardener.

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    1. Hi Georgia...glad you liked it...and glad you found me ;-)

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  15. Breathtaking. This space truly is this beautiful. Nice editorial choices on the photos Scott. I never get tired of photos of "that tree."

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    1. Hahaha...me either...and if you've ever been there in autumn, you've likely seen the horde of "suitors" gathered around and under the poor thing!

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  16. "Nor can you overlook the skill of the craftsmen who created this garden."
    This is what I was thinking too as I dreamily perused your fabulous photos. To have the skill to create such beautiful gardens means thinking ahead. Not easy for those of us who buy a plant on the spur of the moment and then figure out where to plant it. To have the skill in pruning those magnificent trees that show them at their best. Thanks for sharing a wonderful garden.

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    1. Exactly, Patty...it's such a labor of love...and skill! I've been there at times when they were pruning and shaping the trees...it's fascinating...and terrifying...can you imagine making a mistake...eek!

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  17. Those last two photos are a visual poem to trees everywhere. I'm not normally a fan of the tight control of Japanese gardens, but even a barbarian like me understands their beauty through these photos.

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    1. Hahahaha...I totally agree, Denise. I love visiting them, but could never have a Japanese-style garden for myself...I'm far too wild for that...I like a little bit of chaos ;-)

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  18. Did you visit without the camera? I find the experience very different with/without, so sometimes I will make two visits to a place. We didn't suffer, with this gorgeous backlog of stunning photos, but you must be going through withdrawal. Hope you get your baby back soon.

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    1. Sadly, no, Ricki...we visited a scenic camera repair shop instead :-( Withdrawal...hmmm...is that why I'm having tremors and night-sweats?

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  19. Well I am going to have to get to this garden, that's all. I've heard of weddings there I believe, and I see how it would be a plenty awesome venue for that sort of event-- a magical place, like a dream.

    ps: I hope your camera makes a quick recovery-- something is going around, seems to me. Mine had it too but it wasn't fatal.

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    1. You really must visit...you'll love it! I'm hoping the repair doesn't take as long to fix as they've said (3-4 weeks), EEEK!

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  20. Holy smokes--amazing photos! You are so talented.

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  21. Absolutely first rate photos Scott. Thumbs up !

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    1. Thanks...it's hard not to be inspired up there :-)

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  22. What stunning gardens to have on your doorstep. Sometimes it's nice to go undistracted by a camera, and just drink it all in yourself. Beautiful collection of shots though.

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    1. So very true...the camera can be a distraction itself, right?

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  23. Sorry about your camera Scott! Beautiful pictures of this great garden!

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    1. Thanks...I'm kinda going a little crazy without it!

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  24. These pictures are absolutely stunning. By just looking at them I can see why you took so may. Not only are the sites breathtaking but they atmosphere looks so cool and serene. I hope your camera is now okay.

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  25. So beautiful, Scott. I wish I were there for a visit right now.

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    1. I wish you were too, Pam...maybe next year (hint, hint)!

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  26. Bravo. I think this post deserves an award of some kind. At the very least, the curators of the garden should honor you with a free annual pass. Just magnificent, Scott. I hope you can get your camera back soon.

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    1. Hahaha...wouldn't that be nice, Grace! I hope so too...it's amazing to realize how much I just took it for granted.

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  27. Your pictures are nothing short of AMAZING. The garden looks beautifully designed and there is so much fall color.

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    1. Thanks, Sweetbay...so glad you liked it!

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  28. Showoff!!

    The pictures are gorgeously composed. I wish I had your talent.

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    1. Awww, shucks, Thomas...I just point the camera in the general direction ;-)

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  29. What a beautiful place to visit. Japanese Maples just seem to draw you in to the landscape. I love them. Hope your camera is not too expensive to fix.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

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    1. I totally agree, Cher...and too see groves of them is magical :-)

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  30. I had to look through twice. Every shot is breathtaking.

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  31. Beautiful photos--really enjoyed them. Thanks! Hope your camera feels better soon.

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  32. Absolutely out of this world and into the next! Your photography is fabulous.I'll be back to enjoy this post again and again

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  33. Wow - I love Autumn and your photos look fab. The Portland Japanese Garden is now on my list of places to visit before I die.

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    1. If you love Autumn, you owe it to yourself to see it in person, for sure!

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  34. My heavens, this has got to be by far the best blog post I have seen in a long, long time. I love, love, love Japanese gardens and you photos are absolutely breath taking. Well done!

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    1. Wow...that's quite a compliment, Randy...I'm totally flattered you enjoyed it so much :-)

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  35. OMG Scott, these are the best autumn shots I've seen throughout my blogging life! How i wish i can see something like that in real life. And the shot of that waterfall with the slow shutter, I am drooling with envy. We have long been adoring your shots from the past, and you already know I am a real fan, but these are really the best. Thank you very much, i will share this in FB.

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    1. Thanks so much, Kalantikan...the Japanese Garden is a must-see destination for lovers of Autumn...it's sublime!

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  36. Gorgeous fall shots... This Japanese garden is the next best thing to being in Kyoto in November... Experiencing autumn's passionate colors is one of the few things I miss living in the tropics.

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    1. OMG...I can imagine...I'd miss them too :-)

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  37. What a wonderful place, the colors are so vibrant. Love the long views of the Moon bridge. Those mature Japanese maples, so twisty, just so graceful.

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    1. Don't you just love them...they are so very graceful :-)

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  38. Although I should say "Hope you get your camera back soon...", in reality I hope it stays away long enough for you to find a few more of the photos you have squirreled away. This is such a gorgeous post Scott! I've been to Japanese-style in gardens in several states but not in Portland and some day that must happen.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

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    1. Hahaha...you may get your wish, Annie...and, it may sound crazy, but I can almost without reservation say that for every image I post here on this blog, there are at least 100 more than are unused...I'm a bit crazy when it comes to taking pictures ;-)

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  39. Scott these are some of your most stunning photos, and that's saying a lot. Thanks for my mini-morning vacation to this dreamy spot.

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    1. Thanks so much, Tom...so glad you enjoyed the trip :-)

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  40. Realy a wonderful place and so nice autumn colors

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  41. a piece of heaven ........ just <3

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