Landscape Architecture
Portland Japanese Garden
Designed in 1963, the Portland Japanese Garden is considered by many to be the most authentic and beautiful Japanese garden outside of Japan. Traditional Japanese gardens representing different styles spread out underneath towering Douglas Fir trees and create a peaceful environment that feels a world away, just a few minutes from downtown. The garden also features excellent programming including lectures, performances and visual art exhibitions.
Extend your visit by seeing the International Rose Test Garden, across the street.
Photos: Micah Fischer
Leach Botanical Garden
This small garden on Portland's eastern edge has a "secret garden" quality to it. The original gardens and historic structures sit on the banks of Johnson Creek and were built by botanist Lilla Leach and her husband beginning in the 1930s. A recent garden expansion provides more spaces and gardens to enjoy, including an "aerial tree walk." Bonus: a new pavilion structure was designed by acclaimed Seattle architects Olson Kundig.
Extend your visit by stopping by the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden on your way back into Portland.
Photos: Micah Fischer
Halprin Park Sequence
In downtown Portland, a group of three parks are connected by pedestrian streets—designed by Modernist landscape architecture icon Lawrence Halprin. The cast concrete forms in the spaces are inspired by the Cascade mountains, waterfalls and canyons. The sequence can be experienced by beginning at the "Source Fountain" and walking—or "flowing"—to Lovejoy Fountain, then Pettygrove Park and finally, Keller Fountain.
Photos: Halprin Landscape Conservancy
Confluence Project
The Confluence Project is a series of site-specific installations designed by architect/artist Maya Lin along the Columbia River and Snake River that connect place with history, culture and ecology. The bird blind, pictured above, is located just outside of Portland near the confluence of the Sandy River and Columbia River and can be reached by a short, easy hike. Another nearby site that's part of the project is the Vancouver Land Bridge (designed by Johnpaul Jones—designer of the National Museum of the American Indian on the National Mall—in consultation with Maya Lin). The other sites are quite a bit further away—see the Confluence Project website for more information. 
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