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Cultivating Wisdom

The Lan Su Chinese Garden in NW Portland is a chance to step into a dreamy vision of a scholar’s world set in the famously beautiful Chinese city of Suzhou.

Snug Harbor, New York

The Chinese Scholar's Garden is a replica of a 15th-century Ming Dynasty walled garden with roses, banana plants, chrysanthemums and magnolias, open-air courtyards between pavilions and ponds with lotus, water lilies and colorful carp. 

The garden features magnificent rocks resembling mountains that inspired the poetry and paintings of Confucian, Buddhist, and Taoist monks, as well as other scholars. Visitors can explore eight pavilions, a bamboo forest path, waterfalls, a Koi-filled pond, Chinese calligraphy, and a variety of Ghongshi scholar’s rocks including a 15-foot formation that towers over the central courtyard. A team of 40 Chinese artists and craftspeople spent a year in China creating the Garden’s components and another six months in Staten Island as craftsmen-in-residence at Snug Harbor to complete the construction. 

Breaking Ground: Twenty Years of the New York Chinese Scholar’s Garden brings the fascinating story of this unique space in Staten Island, New York to life through artifacts, photographs, and artwork, in honor of the 20th anniversary of its completion.
San Marino: Liu Fang Yuan 流芳園 
The Garden of Flowing Fragrance
Completion: May 2020

“Flowing fragrance” (liu fang 流芳) refers to the scents of the flowers and trees throughout the year as the seasons turn. The Chinese poet Cao Zhi 曹植 (192-232) first used the phrase in his “Rhapsody on the Luo River Goddess” (“Luo shen fu” 洛神賦) to describe how the fragrance of the flowers trailed in the goddess’s wake. The name also serves to echo that of the Ming dynasty painter Li Liufang 李流芳 (1575-1629), one of the late masters of landscape painting.

In the garden, Chinese architecture and rocks from Lake Tai, placed around the water’s edge, balance native features such as the Californian oaks. Sheltering woods were left undisturbed and a man-made lake stands in the same deep spot where once water naturally collected after heavy rains.

A Chinese garden, it is said, is like a scroll painting, presenting a series of carefully composed scenes. New vistas are revealed as one strolls along the pathways, with a number of key elements combining to create a sense of harmony and of beauty.


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