Lan Su Chinese Garden. Urban Park in Portland, Oregon

Lan Su Chinese Garden

Urban Park in Portland, Oregon

Lan Su Chinese Garden Photo © Ethan Trewhitt

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Lan Su Chinese Garden

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Lan Su Chinese Gardens, Portland - Lan
	Su Chinese Garden
Lan Su Chinese Gardens, Portland - Lan Su Chinese Garden. Photo by Gexydaf
The Lan Su Chinese Garden, titled the “Garden of the Awaking Orchids”, is an authentic Ming Dynasty (Wikipedia Article)-style garden in Downtown Portland, Oregon. Previously known as the “Portland Classical Chinese Garden”, this year-round landscaped masterpiece takes up an entire city block and is surrounded by a wall. It covers approximately 40,000 square feet in Chinatown in the historic Old Town Chinatown district in central Portland. The two Chinese words in its name, ‘Lan’ and ‘Su’, mean respectively “Orchid” and “Arise” or “Awaken”, which explains the garden’s title.

The gorgeous tranquil gardens, built by artists from Suzhou, Portland’s sister city in China, the Lan Su Chinese Garden provides a welcomed break from the hustle and bustle of the city. In addition to being a quiet retreat, the gardens also host several special events throughout the year, such as the festive Chinese New Year’s celebrations in winter and a concert series in summer. The equivalent of the Portland Japanese Garden, which is considered to be the most authentic Japanese garden outside of Japan, Portland’s Lan Su Chinese Garden is often regarded to be the finest Chinese garden outside of China. It is, without question, one of the city’s greatest treasures and most fascinating places to visit.


The first attempt to build a Chinese garden in Portland was made in the beginning of the 1980s. However, it wasn’t until 1988, when Portland and Suzhou became sister cities, that those plans were actually truly developed. In the 1990s the efforts to construct a Chinese garden were continued and by the end of the decade a site had been chosen. The garden was then designed by Kuang Zhen Yan and built by 65 workers and landscapers from Suzhou. Construction began in July, 1999, and was finished 14 months later. No less than 500 tons of rock were shipped from China to be used in the garden, to make it more authentic, which it most definitely did. The Lan Su Chinese Garden was opened in September 2000.


As the most authentic Chinese garden outside of China, the Lan Su Chinese Garden is more than just a beautiful botanic garden. It is a creative masterpiece that represents a 2,000-year-old Chinese gardening tradition; a tradition that combines art, design, nature and architecture in one magnificent outdoor area. Inside the garden’s walls, visitors feel like they’ve traveled to a faraway land. The garden’s aim is to connect people with nature and their inner selves, as well as offering an insight into Chinese culture, history and philosophy.

Although most of the plants in the garden are indigenous to China, not a single plant was brought over from Chine due to import bans. Instead, they were found in nurseries and botanic gardens in Oregon that were growing those plants since before the import ban. There are more than 400 plant species and thousands of individuals, some of which are more than 10 years old. There are trees, bamboos; orchids, perennials; water plants, and shrubs.

Man-made features include Lake Zither, which is the focal point and dominant feature of the garden, covered walkways, bridges, and Chinese-style buildings. Notable structures are the Celestial Hall of Permeating Fragrance, the Painted Boat in Misty Rain, the Moon Locking Pavilion, Flowers Bathing in Spring Rain, and the Tower of Cosmic Reflection

Visiting the Lan Su Chinese Garden

There are many ongoing visitor program and activities, such as Tai Chi classes, music lessons in the Tea House and guided tours. A major event in winter is the Chinese New Year; in summer there is the Tuesday by Twilight concert series.

The Lan Su Chinese Garden is open every day of the year, except on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. From October 15 to April 14, the garden is open between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. From April 15 to October 14, it can be visited between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Tickets cost $ 9.50 USD for adults, $ 8.50 USD for seniors and $ 7.00 USD for students. Children 5 and under can enter for free.

How to Get There

The Lan Su Chinese Garden encompasses a whole city block in Downtown Portland and can conveniently be reached by walking or biking. The garden is surrounded by N.W. Everett Street, N.W. 4th Avenue, N.W. Flanders Street, and N.W. 2nd Avenue. By public transport, the garden is accessed by both the Blue and Red MAX lines, which stop in Old Town Chinatown. Buses 1, 4, 5, 10, 16, 33, 40 and 77 stop nearby as well. The garden lies a quarter of a mile southeast of Amtrak’s Union Station.

Similar and Nearby Landmarks

Other green areas in Portland include the vast Washington Park Portland with the International Rose Test Garden, the Hoyt Arboretum, and the Portland Japanese Garden.

Other Asian botanic gardens, located elsewhere in the world, that are worth visiting are the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens, the Koishikawa Botanical Gardens, and the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: Feb 24, 2015

Pictures of Lan Su Chinese Garden

Lan Su Chinese Garden - Lan Su Chinese Garden
Lan Su Chinese Garden - Photo by Jacqui Osbourne

Lan Su Chinese Garden
Lan Su Chinese Garden. Photo by Gexydaf

Lan Su Chinese Garden - Lan Su Chinese Garden
Lan Su Chinese Garden - Photo by Ethan Trewhitt


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