Japanese Gardens of Portland

Amanda and I have spent the afternoon in the Japanese gardens of Portland. Quite amazing, really. The beauty of gardening is really something to behold. I first realized that gardening was more than (and entirely different from) farming when I met Amanda’s parents. Dad and Mom had ‘gardens’. They planted things in the dirt and then weeded and sculpted and purposed to bring about plants. They knew the names of the plants; sometimes (most times) they knew the Latin names also, and they weren’t afraid to tell me about the plant.This is planted here and that is planted there. This one is named William, and that one will bring on a gorgeous pink flower, etc. I had no idea.

I have learned so much about plants from the Dugdale family. I claim the deutzia as my favorite. I know where it is planted in our garden and that its little white flowers are the first to bloom in the spring time. The green plant part always stretches itself to reach the sunlight so we have to scratch through its greenery in order to get from the car to the house when we park in the driveway.

I know what a Rose bush is. And the Lamb’s Ear (Stachys byzantina). And the different Iris along the front wall. And the Columbine (Grandpasays Concubinus). The true gardener knows the names of the plants and why they were planted. The true gardener weeds and cultivates and brings life to his plants. Proper watering and sunlight. Proper pH of the soil and fertilizer that will bring the brightest flower and healthiest foliage. We thank God for his creation and are amazed at His diversity in so many things. Who would have thought of all the different plants? Really? Who could have imagined both the fern and the lily and the redwood? There’s not a chance in Vegas that the cosmic diversity we see in one garden could have come from self-selection.

No religion on earth believes that the same idea gave rise to both the whale and the crabgrass. Eastern religions at least purposefully build meaning into their gardens. They compose and balance and portray and build and identify and idealize and capture reality and reflect and craft and segregate and diversify and distinguish and blend. They feel and accentuate. They breathe and respond. They submit and dominate. They fashion and worship.

But they do not acknowledge the God who made all things.

How does one love the craft of unbelief when it highlights the beauty of the creation of God to the exclusion of the Creator? The Japanese gardens highlighted below are stunning. They were well thought out and genuinely are second to none. The forms are in their balance and place. Even the asymmetry is poetically and artfully highlighting the tension and resolution in every arch and line. And emptiness is built into the mix. Without nothing, you cannot have something.

God made it all and holds it all together with his powerful Word. Every molecule and cell. Every blade of grass and silicone bead is hand-crafted to point to the creator and to give Him glory and praise. We so often worship the created thing instead of the Creator.

I have copied below directly from the website.

The Five Gardens

The 5.5 acre Japanese Garden is composed of five distinct garden styles. When we enter a Japanese garden, the desired effect is to realize a sense of peace, harmony, and tranquility and to experience the feeling of being a part of nature. In a deep sense, the Japanese garden is a living reflection of the long history and traditional culture of Japan. Influenced by Shinto, Buddhist, and Taoist philosophies, there is always “something more” in these compositions of stone, water, and plants than meets the eye.

Three of the essential elements used to create a Japanese garden are stone, the “bones” of the landscape; water, the life-giving force; and plants, the tapestry of the four seasons. Japanese garden designers feel that good stone composition is one of the most important elements in creating a well-designed garden. Secondary elements include pagodas, stone lanterns, water basins, arbors, and bridges. Japanese gardens are asymmetrical in design and reflect nature in idealized form. Traditionally, human scale is maintained throughout so that one always feels part of the environment, not overpowered by it. As Professor Tono wanted to incorporate native trees in our Garden so that it would blend naturally with its environment, some of the plantings here are on a larger scale.

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