The site was previously the parking lot of Northwest Natural, who donated the land to create the scholar's garden. The garden opened in September 2000 and is based on style of garden built in Suzhou during the Ming Dynasty. Portland is twinned with Suzhou in China and the limestone rocks were mined from a Lake Tai near Suzhou. The garden is known as Lan Su Yuan - "Lan" meaning "Orchid", "Su" meaning "awakening" and Yuan meaning garden. "Lan" also echoes the "lan" in Portland and "Su" echoes the "Su" in Suzhou.