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  • Writer's pictureSusan Lute

In The Garden: 5 Must-See Gardens in Oregon

While I'm waiting for the rain to stop and the winter garden to morph into a spring garden I thought we could visit some gardens around the Portland area and be reminded there are some spectacular patches of blooming flora to visit. Here are 5 must-see gardens, not necessarily in my order of preference. A side note: Portland has been referred to as the City of Gardens. I couldn't agree more.

First on our list is Lan Su Chinese Garden, a botanical oasis in NW Portland. Its design is based on a 2,000-year-old Chinese tradition that brings together art, architecture, design, and the harmony of nature (all the things I love). Koi make their home in Lake Zither and there are five pavilions. The garden hosts poetry workshops, painting workshops, calligraphy classes, music, and classes in Tai Chi fundamentals.

In the spring, the cherry blossoms blooming in the Portland Japanese Garden are stunning. This year, the garden is celebrating its 60th birthday, which I must confess makes me older than the garden :). It's beautiful and offers a serenity that is most welcome these days. Globally, the garden is known to be the most beautiful and authentic Japanese garden outside of Japan. According to their website, “in the Japanese culture, the year 60 (kanreki) is believed to be the beginning of a new chapter or a rebirth, and is filled with hope and possibilities.” That is interesting on a personal level because I've been feeling recently that a new chapter (for me and those close to me) is about to begin. The garden is located in SW Portland and has art exhibitions, cultural performances, and cultural demonstrations.

Washington Park - International Rose Test Garden has more than 10,000 individual rose bushes blooming from late May through October and showcases more than 610 different rose varieties. Being there makes my heart sing. The perfect time to visit, perhaps take the family for a picnic is when the roses are in high bloom. If you're a rose lover like me, the garden is a wonderful place to research new roses to plant in your own rose garden. One interesting thing is the garden is a popular place to get married. The Gazebo is located just north of the rose garden, and an amphitheater hosts classical music concerts, plays, and is a great spot for that picnic.

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Gardens is billed as being “a sanctuary of tranquil beauty for the well-being of all.” I can attest to being wrapped in an abundance of that feeling while wandering along its pathways. When my kids were young I used to take them to Crystal Springs as often as my time off from the day job allowed. And I went for exactly that reason—to find peace and quiet. From April through June, azaleas and rhododendrons are in full bloom. The lake is spring fed and is home to a variety of waterfowl that nest in this natural habitat. There are three waterfalls to see and two footbridges to cross. Crystal Springs does have a photography policy for portrait photography. Be sure to check that out before planning family photos in the gardens. They host weddings and special events from May through October.

Oxbow Regional Park is a 1,000-acre park of old-growth forest along the Sandy River. I love it there, and when I was a younger woman, it was my go-to place when I needed to find balance between my work and personal life. Growing up is hard to do :) In addition to fifteen miles of hiking trails, park activities include swimming, boating, fishing, horseback riding, and camping. You can also take animal tracking workshops and wildflower and mushroom identifying classes.

That's it for this week. If you have found ways to balance your work and life, be sure to comment below. And don't forget to follow me on Instagram, Facebook, BookBub, Goodreads, Amazon, and at As always you can contact me at

In the meantime, happy reading.

XO Susan


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