Seattle Chinese Garden: Courtyard complete!

(WSB photos by Ellen Cedergreen)
Big news from the north end of the South Seattle Community College campus on West Seattle’s Puget Ridge – a milestone for the Seattle Chinese Garden! The visiting Chinese artisans will be returning to China on Wednesday after spending three months on site completing the “Knowing the Spring Courtyard.” Here’s its formal entrance:

The artisans originally weren’t expected to be finished for a few more weeks, but their work is done ahead of schedule, and they say it’ll be exciting to go home and see their families. They lived on site in trailers, which will be relocated to an upper hill now, to make room for a larger visitor’s information trailer. Here’s the interior of the courtyard:

And here’s the south entrance to the courtyard.

A central sculpture in the interior courtyard is located in the southwest corner. The rocks were brought over from China, guided in with cranes and intricately placed by the artisans.

WSB contributing photographer Ellen Cedergreen, who took these photographs today, reports she learned, all that’s left to do is some grading on the grounds, move some trailers around, and complete some landscaping. er.This first phase of the garden is set to be complete by 12/31 in time for it’s soft opening and will be open to the public 12-4, Wednesday-Sunday thereafter.

21 Replies to "Seattle Chinese Garden: Courtyard complete!"

  • I. Ponder November 8, 2010 (7:34 pm)

    That’s fantastic. There are very few classical Chinese gardens in North America. This will be an international destination for people interested in gardens. We are very lucky to have this here.

  • J November 8, 2010 (8:23 pm)

    Beautiful! Thank you, visiting artisans!

  • ellenater November 8, 2010 (9:10 pm)

    It is so freakishly beautiful up there. As if West Seattle needed any more natural beauty, here we get this amazing garden. It soothes the soul.

  • Bad Dick! November 8, 2010 (9:15 pm)

    Ya know what the most respected Landscape Architect in China is saying about traditional Chinese gardens? He thinks they are obscene, insulting to the current state of humanity’s interaction with Nature as it currently exists. This entire project is an ego driven. unsustainable, circle jerk. It completely ignores the current state of horticulture and the obligation we as gardeners have towards the planet and our fellow human beings. It’s an embarrassment.

  • Derek November 8, 2010 (9:21 pm)

    RE: Bad Dick

    It almost seems unfair to make a statement like that without giving any sort of reason why. As a person who doesn’t have any experience or knowledge, it’d be nice if I could get some more information as to what makes a Chinese garden such a horrible thing.

    • WSB November 8, 2010 (9:24 pm)

      And I was going to ask for a link to this reported repudiation. I am no expert but have been to the site and it would seem to have more in common with xeriscape than anything else. The website has detailed explanation of the garden’s inspiration (with additional pages about its “four elements” as well as its horticulture):
      For anyone who’s interested — and I’m sure the many dedicated volunteers from whom we have repeatedly heard in recent weeks would be interested in entertaining questions and challenges – there are regular tours:

  • Garden_nymph November 8, 2010 (10:07 pm)

    It is absolutely beautiful and I look forward to seeing it in person. What amazing work the Chinese artisans have done; what a gift for West Seattle!
    Bad Dick, I am interested in the facts you have to justify your comments. So sad that you cannot enjoy the beauty that has been added to West Seattle.

  • ellenater November 8, 2010 (10:12 pm)

    Dear Not-Good Phallus,

    There’s no such thing as A (as in ONE) traditional Chinese garden. Chinese gardens are regionally different with there being city and country prototypes. Portland’s is based more on a Shanghai prototype with a compact design. Historically, these were gardens for families or extended families. OUR new garden is based on a more communal model from our sister city in China, Chongqing.

    I’m sure the Chinese artisans, who used centuries old techniques to craft the garden, would love to hear that their dedication, labor, and vision is just an “ego driven, unsustainable, circle jerk”. I feel certain the community will suspend their reverence and awe of said spectacle in order to be educated by your tenets of truth.

    Get a grip.

  • Seaview November 8, 2010 (10:44 pm)

    Can’t wait to see this garden! Thank you for the update and many thanks to the artisans and planners.

  • anonyme November 9, 2010 (5:55 am)

    Bad Dick has some good points, even if you disagree with his overall message. The Chinese Garden is not really a “garden” per se, but a collection of man-made structures, albeit beautiful ones, with studied views of plants. Plants are not the main feature, nor are the artisans gardeners.

  • derek November 9, 2010 (8:08 am)

    So just so I’m clear about this…

    We aren’t really arguing about the Chinese Garden itself. We’re just arguing that it’s called a garden when, in fact, it’s mostly structures with some plants around?

    That’s kind of silly.

  • Bad Dick! November 9, 2010 (8:08 am)

    Here is the link you requested-
    Let me state that this is a man who is known as the father of modern Chinese LA. This project has taken a toll on the planet, endangered trees were cut down, rocks shipped thousands of miles in cargo containers, the carbon spew just keeps rising. It is a reality the people who are creating this have chosen to ignore, in fact, when questioned about this their response was that “sustainability is just a phase.” In an area where we have seen a huge rise in the need for real food, for gardens with a purpose we instead got a a folly. It’s a complete shame that this was created at an educational facility. I’m a big believer in Bread and Roses, and Art for Art’s sake, however, I fail to see how this meets the needs of either.

  • 35this35mph November 9, 2010 (8:38 am)

    Thanks for the follow up info Bad Dick. The language you chose for your first post suggests you were more interested in supporting your pen name than enlightening your neighbors. Trollish.

  • westseattledood November 9, 2010 (8:45 am)

    My two cents:

    This project has been years in process originating within the Chinese community. A long time, and I’m guessing long before “sustainability” was ever spoken of regionally or internationally.

    This project is not in China. The site view lines are a metaphor of the long standing trade relationship with China in the context of the overall importance of the trade which built this dynamic city.

    For me, the presence of a Chinese garden here in West Seattle is a welcome expression of a culture which is not represented in public art. Let’s face it, such cultural art is next to non-existent in West Seattle or any area outside the ID and if we are to become the multicultural city we *say* we are, I will embrace the tradition the Chinese artisans are bringing to our community. Remember, this has been a long, long time in process.

    I walk there frequently and it is spectacularly beautiful right now in the open areas of the arboretum. I encourage everyone who has not been there to check it out before all of the leaves are down. You will be thrilled that this is in our neighborhood and that it is a world-class garden.

  • sun*e November 9, 2010 (9:08 am)

    SSCC was one of the stops in the 2010 garden tour, which also included wine tasting, :) and I think the new Chinese Garden is a great addition to the already impressive landscape. I can’t wait to see it… I just know it’ll be beautiful!

  • jwws November 9, 2010 (9:16 am)

    Seattle Chinese Garden Mission Statement:

    “To create an authentic Chinese garden in West Seattle; the garden’s mission is educational, to share the cultural heritage – art, philosophy, and horticulture – of China, our Pacific Rim neighbor.”     

    This garden is being built/planted in phases as funding is available. Two such projects that SCG is currently seeking funding for involve planting materials and hardscape for a lotus pond as well as planting materials/soil amendments to connect the courtyard and pond to the Song Mei Pavilion.

    Like any garden project, hardscape always comes first with planting at the end, so be patient, enjoy the experience as this beautiful garden develops and support SCG and those organizations that assist with funding SCG!

  • miws November 9, 2010 (9:34 am)

    “Dear Not-Good Phallus”


    Glad I didn’t have a mouthful of coffee while reading that! :lol:



  • anonyme November 9, 2010 (1:51 pm)

    Just to be clear, the Chinese Garden is not part of the SSCC Arboretum. It is adjacent to the Arboretum, and a chunk of the Arboretum was allocated to make way for it. It is also my understanding that the CG sits on leased SSCC property. However, the two organizations are completely separate.

  • Ellenater November 9, 2010 (3:01 pm)

    Me too!! :)

  • I. Ponder November 9, 2010 (3:21 pm)

    To those who think it’s not a garden: you are outside your area of expertise. It’s a rare and special garden.

    To Bad Dick: you’re just mad because there’s no bridge for you to lurk under. Perhaps the next phase of the project will build you a proper home.

  • goodwork November 9, 2010 (7:39 pm)

    Congratulations its beautiful. No small task at that. It will take years to season but it will be a beautiful destination.

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