The Portland Japanese Garden has added a new dimension to its rich 12-acre horticultural environment: botanical drawings of azaleas, Rhododendrons and other iconic Pacific Northwest flowers native to Japan are displayed May 14 through July 4 atop a garden hill in Southwest Portland’s Washington Park.
“Gifts from Japan: A Horticultural Tale Told through Botanical Art” highlights the scientific tradition of creating precise watercolor, pen and ink, or colored pencil illustrations of plant species that facilitate the discovery and botanical knowledge, while being appreciated for their artistic talent.
Careful brushstrokes and color choices detail the shape and characteristics of camellias, irises and orchids, wisteria and other flowering plants imported from Japan.
The illustrations on display were created over the past century by well-known artists in Japan and the United States, including botanical artists from Oregon.
The exhibit also features historic photographs and postcards as well as catalogs from Yokohama Nursery, which is credited with introducing cherry trees to Washington, D.C., and poignant seashell bodices made by Japanese Americans. detained during World War II in prison camps in Idaho and Utah.
Portland first made plans for its Japanese Garden as a quiet space for cross-cultural understanding in 1963. The garden opened in 1967 and sees nearly half a million visitors a year.
The nonprofit organization partnered with the Huntington Library, Southern California Museum of Art and Botanical Gardens and its curator Robert Hori to create the special exhibit.
Visitors to the Portland Japanese Garden can study the finer details of the leaf-root systems in the drawings installed in the Tanabe Gallery at the Jordan Schnitzer Japanese Arts Learning Center and the Pavilion Gallery at the Flat Garden.
The exhibit “Gifts from Japan: A Horticultural Tale Told through Botanical Art” can be viewed with an admission ticket to the Portland Japanese Garden at 611 SW Kingston Ave. 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday through Monday, May 14 through July 4 (japanesegarden.org; 503-223-1321).
— Janet Eastman | 503-294-4072