Monday, November 12, 2012
Autumn at The Portland Japanese Garden
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.
This gate leading to a short path which winds up through Forest Park to the actual entrance of the Garden.
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.
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.
Koi swim languidly in most of the larger ponds.
The Moon Bridge beckons you to cross to the other side.
Or you can stroll through an allee of arching Maple branches.
Since it's autumn...you can almost always count on jewels of moisture on the leaves.
The atmosphere in the Japanese Garden is one of serenity.
In spite of the amazing hardscape details, the plants are always the focus for me.
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.
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.
If you come on a day when the leaves have been cleared, however, you do get a better view of the Koi.
Koi or no Koi, Maples are the stars of this garden.
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.
Sometimes it almost seems as if the Garden has been dressed like a set...as fallen leaves are strewn across the paths.
Don't forget to look up, though...or you'll miss the other part of the show.
If you have any choice, try to go on an overcast day...the soft light filters through the canopy, becoming soft and diffuse.
This soft, even lighting makes colors seem almost unreal in their vibrancy...and glare is reduced...give scenes a hyper-clarity.
Times moves differently here...and you can't help but notice the artistry of nature.
Nor can you overlook the skill of the craftsmen who created this garden.
Sometimes the leaves seem to fall into an unreal pattern...perfectly framing the views.
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.
The garden is largely about contrast...the dark of the wood versus the light of sunlit foliage.
Hard, immobile stone and rock versus the soft caress of deciduous foliage.
No matter where you are in the garden, there is always a path enticing you further.
Around every corner, there are surprising vignettes of simple beauty.
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...
to looking like this :-)