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Extreme Weather and Caring for the Garden

Anticipating and Adjusting to Change

Portland Japanese Garden is revered as a place where one can find an intimate connection with nature. Our natural topography and setting within a forest of towering trees combined with intentional design of each garden space allow the heart and mind to open, listen, and take important lessons from nature.  

Listening and learning from nature also includes perceiving the signs of climate change. In the past 18 months, we saw several extenuating conditions, including the impact of wildfires creating hazardous air quality, the beautiful, yet dangerous aftermath of an ice storm, and the unrelenting grip of record-setting heat.  

Hugo Torii, Garden Curator, works together with his team of gardeners throughout the course of the year to implement protective and preventative measures for these extreme weather conditions. Below are a handful of examples of practices that Torii and the team incorporate into their daily maintenance of the Garden: 

  • When pruning (especially older trees), consider which branches can and cannot be overly extended to help prevent breaking from strong winds and weight of snow and ice. If keeping an extended branch, adding an appropriate support helps keep it sturdy.  
  • Refrain from hard pruning when there is a forecast of extreme heat and practicing patience until late summer or early fall to prune, if possible. This helps prevent sun scalding and burnt leaves. 
  • Shade netting where necessary in extreme sunlight and temperatures. 
  • Leaf watering to keep dust off leaves and help let the leaves breathe.  
  • Keeping heavy snow or ice off the canopy of thinner branches and keeping snow off where snow burns can be anticipated.  
  • During heavy rain conditions, making sure there is adequate drainage and exit for run offs especially on the pathways.  
  • When there is a stormy forecast, keep bonsai and any potted plants off the shelf. 
  • Anticipate the changing climate trends and adjust planting species and positions as necessary. 
  • Be aware of the time lag in symptoms of stress for plants from extreme weather.