Signs of Spring

Portland Japanese Garden offers an ideal oasis to relax and recharge over spring break.

The clouds are finally breaking and we are ready to emerge from hibernation. Walking around town, you may have spotted a few burgeoning cherry tree buds or bright camellias. The signs of new life can't help but lift the spirit. For a full dose of the joys of spring, make a visit to Portland Japanese Garden.

Portland Japanese Garden is an urban oasis and the perfect place to relax and recharge, whatever your age or mood. In addition to its natural beauty, The  Garden offers cultural demonstrations, art exhibitions and festivals. There's something for everyone. It's conveniently located just minutes from downtown, making it an easy stop after a long day at Powell's Books or brewery hopping with out-of-town visitors.

Portland Japanese Garden is home to eight garden spaces, each a different presentation of three key elements: stone, water and plants. Whatever spirit strikes you, there's a garden to fit your mood. If you're feeling contemplative, venture over to serene Flat Garden, with a highly stylized, formal landscape designed for sitting and gazing out past the veranda. If you're feeling curious, explore the weaving paths of the wild and lush Natural Garden.

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March and April are great months to catch blooms at Portland Japanese Garden and to witness the rebirth and renewal that makes spring our favorite season. Camellias, those vibrant pink, red and white flowers, are now in bloom. Cherry trees bloom from the end of March into April. The cherry blossom is Japan's national flower, and Portland Japanese Garden is home to many of these delicate pink-and-white-flowered trees. Last are the magnolias, whose full blooms can be seen in April.

Spring is also a great time to take advantage of the Garden's regular cultural demonstrations and performances, including lectures on bonsai, traditional tea ceremonies, koto harp performances, ikebana (flower arrangement) and shakuhachi flute performances. You'll also want to check out the Garden's art exhibitions. Five are slated for 2020 in the Garden's Pavilion Gallery. Don't miss the stunning view from the Garden's overlook, which offers visitors perhaps the city's best view of our beloved Mount Hood.

End your spring break adventure with a cup of tea and a sweet treat from Umami Cafe. Soak in the natural beauty as you sip quietly and enjoy the panoramic views of the Garden. Unsolicited tip: It's also a great spot for people watching.

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Starting March 9, the Garden remains open till 7 p.m., so you can even stop in for an after-work stroll, a moment of calm to decompress instead of jumping straight into rush-hour traffic.

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Spring is Portland Japanese Garden's sweet spot, and you'd be remiss to skip a visit.

Cover image is by Julia Taylor.