A New Public Bonsai Display: Portland Japanese Garden
This has been a very special project to be a part of. It’s hard to find a more beautiful, peaceful place, for one thing. The Portland Japanese Garden is one of the most stunning and iconic gardens outside of Japan, with its setting in a hillside forest of Doug Fir and a view of Mt. Hood. It was sited on an old zoo, and gardeners tell me stories of digging around and uncovering the zoo roads and paths.
This week the Garden completed an ambitious 10 year plan of CEO Stephen Bloom, with the unveiling of its $35 million Cultural Crossing center. Its three buildings were designed by Japanese architect Kenga Kuma, his first public design in America. His intention of the buildings to be a ‘cap to the earth’ seems to be realized in the quiet living roof structures.
The purpose of the Cultural Village is to offer study of the Japanese aesthetic arts at the deepest level desired. Tea, garden, ikebana, dance, and bonsai will all be offered there, in various ways. The only new garden in the expansion is the Ellie Hill Bonsai Terrace, designed by the Garden Curator, Sadafumi Uchiyama, and I was honored to help source trees for it.
For the initial display I chose trees that were intended to fill as many spots in the bonsai lexicon as possible, on loan from 9 local bonsai artists. The display will rotate frequently to allow returning visitors new experiences in bonsai styles, species, and seasonality.
Enjoy this photo ‘taster’ of the new expansion—and if you’re traipsing through Portland, definitely don’t miss a visit, the feeling of the space created by Kuma’s architecture is sublime-