Lan Su Chinese Garden

When Portland and Suzhou became sister cities in the late 1980s, the dream for a classical Chinese garden in Portland was born and a newly-formed non-profit began to plan and design the garden. Then-mayor Vera Katz helped the group secure a 99-year lease from Northwest Natural Gas for one full city block in Portland’s Chinatown neighborhood. Small urban parks, like Lan Su Chinese Garden, foster community sustainability by providing a needed respite from the busy city and important community gathering spaces.

Local landscape architect Ben Ngan of Nevue Ngan Associates worked with Suzhou Institute of Landscape Architectural Design (SILAD) and Khang Zhen Yan to oversee the initial design work. Sixty-five Chinese artisans from Suzhou lived in Portland for more than a year while they constructed the garden.

The garden’s name is rich with meaning: a combination of Portland (Lan) and Suzhou (Su), Lan is also the Chinese word for "orchid" and Su for "arise" or "awaken." Lan Su, the “Garden of Awakening Orchids.”

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