Lan Su – an inner city treasure

Visiting Lan Su is always like stepping into another world, far away from the hustle and bustle of the city. A couple of weeks ago, it was the first garden on the agenda during the three-day hort-head extravaganza referred to as the Garden Blogger’s Fling (#GBF14). More than 80 garden bloggers and writers descended on the garden, adorned with cameras and swag bags from the nearby Timber Press, which was our very first stop. More on that later…

It doesn’t matter when I visit Lan Su. In rain, shine or covered in ice – it always has something to offer. This time around, it was a scorching hot day, and I spent most of my time lurking in the shade of the covered walkways. Even the koi were seeking refuge beneath the lily pads, as we red-faced, shutter-happy, sweaty bloggers scurried around up above, documenting all the intricacies of the beautiful garden. Quite honestly, I was a lot less active with my camera than I usually am. To make up for my less than ambitious efforts, I will post a few photos here, but also link to a post I wrote last year where I really looked at things closely.

We were a little early. I never noticed how beautiful the entrance doors are before.

We were a little early. I never noticed how beautiful the entrance doors are before.

See that shady spot on the right, across the pond?  I found myself spending a large portion of my time there, out of the merciless sun.

See that shady spot on the right, across the pond? I found myself spending a large portion of my time back there, out of the merciless sun.  Turns out, there were plenty of interesting things to see back there too.

For one thing, I realized that standing under a weeping Katsura is heaven on earth...

For one thing, I realized that standing under a weeping Katsura on a hot summer day, is heaven on earth…

If I turn the Katsura my back, I see the intricately and beautifully carved shutters to the Tea House.

When I turned the Katsura my back, I saw the intricately and beautifully carved shutters to the Tea House.

Wouldn't you know it? Others too, had discovered the temporary benefits of escaping that fiery, hot ball of incandescent gas high up in the sky - Dee, Laura and Ann got the best seats in the house!

And, wouldn’t you know it? Others too, had discovered the temporary benefits of escaping that hot, fiery ball of incandescent gas high up in the sky – Dee, Laura and Ann got the best seats in the house!

One of my favorite features of Chinese gardens is the elaborate screening, which allows you to peer through to the spaces beyond.

One of my favorite features of Chinese gardens is all its elaborate screening, which allows you to peer through to the enticing spaces that beckon from beyond. Each screen is different, and they are all wonderful.

The name of this opening references a banana leaf.

I don’t remember the name of this opening exactly, but it references a banana leaf as you can probably see from its shape.

As I was hanging out in the shade near a maintenance area beyond the Tea House, I noticed this beautiful detail in the paving. Probably one of loveliest drains I have ever seen...

As I was hanging out in the shade near a maintenance area beyond the Tea House, I noticed this beautiful detail in the paving. Probably one of loveliest drains I have ever seen…

At certain points, the thick walls separating the various gardens hold little miniature landscapes. I laughed when I noticed the tiny little ponies grazing. I imagine that is a nod to the fact that 2014 is the Year of the Horse.

At certain points, the thick walls separating the various gardens hold little miniature landscapes. I laughed when I noticed the tiny little plastic ponies grazing. I imagine that is a nod to the fact that 2014 is the Year of the Horse.

Although it is physically true that water regulates temperature, it is amazing that merely gazing out over a surface of water somehow creates the mental perception that things are cooler than they are.

Although it is physically true that water regulates temperature, it is amazing that merely gazing out over a surface of water somehow creates the mental perception that things are indeed cooler than they actually are.

IMG_1640

I saw a variety of Asplenium or Birds nest fern I had never noticed before.

I saw a variety of Asplenium or Birds nest fern that I really liked, and that I had never noticed before.

The underside of the leaves were covered in indumentum. I'm pretty sure I saw it later on, at Cistus. Should have picked one up, but was trying hard to be a good girl. Oh well, that gives me a reason to go back... right?

The underside of the leaves were covered in indumentum. I’m pretty sure I saw it later on, at Cistus. Should have picked one up, but was trying hard to be a good girl. Oh well, that gives me a reason to go back… right?

You know how Arisaemas are often called Cobra lilies? I'd argue that the subsequent fruit looks an awful lot like a snake's head too... Wouldn't you agree?

You know how Arisaemas are often called Cobra lilies? I’d argue that the subsequent fruit looks an awful lot like a snake’s head too… Wouldn’t you agree?

It was in this garden that I first saw an Iris confuse. As soon as I bloody well could - at a Lan Su Garden plant sale the following year - I bought one. It is one of my Top Ten plants, and is the plant that keeps on giving. If I hadn't given away so many starts, I just might have had a thicket this large. It is a very generous plant!

It was in this garden that I first saw an Iris confusa.  As soon as I bloody well could – at a Lan Su Garden plant sale the following spring- I bought one. It has become one of my Top Ten plants, and is the plant that keeps on giving. If I hadn’t given away so many starts, I just might have had a thicket this large. It is a very generous plant!

 

My husband works on the top floor of the brick building behind the Garden. About five steps from his desk is a view into the Koi pond. There is a red-tailed hawk that sometimes dive-bombs the fish, and he and his work mates have a running bet as to whether the hawk will be successful.

My husband works on the top floor of the brick building behind the Garden. About five steps from his desk is a view into the Koi pond. He tells me there is a red-tailed hawk that sometimes dive-bombs the fish, and he and his work mates have a running bet as to whether the hawk will be successful. I don’t think I could work if I had access to a view like that!

Apparently, I wasn't alone in seeking shade on this day.  The north steps of the Main Pavilion was a great place for gathering before it was time to board our bus to go on to the next great adventure! :)

Apparently, I wasn’t alone in seeking shade on this day. The north steps of the Main Pavilion was a great place for gathering before it was time to board our bus to go on to the next great adventure! 🙂

 

 

 

About annamadeit

Born and raised in Sweden, my aesthetics and outlook on life are strongly shaped by a culture rich in history and tradition. I care a great deal about environmental responsibility, and my aesthetic reflects the visually clean, functional practicality and sustainable solutions that are the hallmarks of modern Scandinavia. I was trained as an architect at the University of Cincinnati and as a color specialist at the Scandinavian Colour Institute in Stockholm. I'm obsessed with plants and gardens, and aim to take my skill set a step further by designing gardens as well as interiors. As someone so aptly said: " Architecture is the skin that separates the exterior from the interior". So true - you can't successfully focus on one without incorporating the other. I'm also an avid cook, and I love to ski. In addition, I put time and efforts into trying to rectify things that I feel are wrong in my immediate community. As you will see, The Creative Flux will touch on all these things, and more. For sure, it's all over the map, but then again - so am I! Welcome to my blog!
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6 Responses to Lan Su – an inner city treasure

  1. Wow, Anna you are a really wonderful photographer, these are luscious shots of a very special place. Nice!

  2. hb says:

    You got really good photos of this garden–that is so cool your husband has a view into the place. I would get zero work done with that view. I also loved that weeping Katsura. Wasn’t that a beautiful tree? I would add one to my garden, but it likely would not be as happy here as it was in the Lan Su Garden.

    The Lan Su garden didn’t seem hot. It was the afternoon that got bad! The walk up the hill back to the bus from Old Germantown was paaaaainful.

    • annamadeit says:

      Omg – good thing we had those cookies to fuel our ascent! And yes – that Katsura is nothing short of fabulous. I just spec’d one for a client last week, so now I have to figure out where I can find one… Fingers crossed! 🙂

  3. Pam/Digging says:

    I am so glad you mentioned the tiny horses in that bonsai arrangement! I was charmed by them as well but thought maybe a passing visitor placed them there. I didn’t realize it was the year of the horse. And of course, as Master Ugway says, “There ARE no accidents.”

    • annamadeit says:

      You know, it made me wonder how they illustrate the Year of the Dragon… Wish I would have thought to look for it in 2013 – now I have to wait another 10 years to find out. Would it be suspended from above as in their myths, or grazing in the fields like most of the others…? I suppose I could ask…

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