Unlike Western gardens, in which flowering plants usually predominate, Chinese gardens are known for combining a variety of natural and manmade elements to achieve a harmonious balance of contrasting textures and colors. Lan Su Yuan ("Garden of the Awakening Orchids") in Portland, Oregon, is considered the largest authentic classical Chinese garden outside of China.
Within its walls are banana trees and jasmine, mainstays of traditional Chinese gardens; a winter-flowering Osmanthus tree; the garden's spiritual center, a serene pond; rocks grouped to represent the great Chinese mountains that have inspired artists for centuries; and manmade structures, such as pavilions, that serve as a place of rest and contemplation. The garden's architectural elements were just as carefully chosen and cultivated as its plants. In fact, while an American crew was building the garden's foundation in Oregon, a team in the ancient Chinese city of Suzhou was creating the other parts of the garden. Elegant bridges and intricately laid stone walkways were transported piece by piece to the United States in 1999 and reassembled by sixty-five Chinese craftsmen, using a four-hundred-year-old construction manual.
Learn more about Portland Classical Chinese Garden.