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Bits & Pieces: Portland Japanese Garden

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COURTESY: DAVID COBB - The weeping cherry tree at Portland Japanese Garden blossoms in the spring. The garden reopens Tuesday, March 1.With the exterior still under construction as part of the Cultural Crossing expansion project, including a 20-foot medieval castle wall, the Portland Japanese Garden will reopen Tuesday, March 1, just in time for the garden’s 75-year-old cherry tree to blossom, new leaf buds on the trees, and koi awakening from hibernation.

The garden had been closed for six months. The exterior construction will not be complete until spring 2017.

Its five landscapes are untouched, even though construction has been taking place outside the garden’s gates. The garden spaces in the West Hills area will be complemented by the Cultural Village outside the garden’s gates, designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. The $33.5 million project will add 3.4 acres to the 9.1-acre property, move the garden’s entry gate to the bottom of the hill at Southwest Kingston Avenue, create space for exhibitions, classrooms and cultural events, and expand the gift shop. And, exterior construction includes the medieval

castle wall at the north end of the new courtyard.

The Portland Japanese Garden is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays, and noon-4 p.m. Mondays; hours change to summer hours March 13. Admission is $9.50 for adults, $7.75 for seniors and students.

For more: www.japanesegarden.com.

Timberline’s Heidi

Timberline Lodge, which has housed a long line of St. Bernard puppies and dogs, has a new one: Heidi, now 12 weeks old.

From the Gresham Outlook’s Elizabeth Kellar:

Part proud mascot and part gentle ambassador, the breed has been a part of the Timberline story since the lodge’s 1937 founding. For a time, huskies took over the role, but popular demand brought back the St. Bernards in the 1960s. A tradition developed of calling the dogs Heidi and Bruno, and Timberline’s newest Heidi is believed to be the 11th of her name.

Longtime Timberline staff members Leslie and Scott Skellenger have taken on the task of being Heidi’s caregivers. Wes Gagnon, the lodge’s food and beverage director, cares for Heidi’s 120-pound co-worker, 4-year-old Bruno.

Little Heidi technically may be one of the hotel’s mascots, gracing Timberline marketing materials and social media pages, but to the Skellengers, the attachment goes far deeper.

“We’re excited, and we’re blessed,” says Scott Skellenger, Timberline’s assistant general manager. “She becomes one of our family.”

The Skellengers also have cared for two previous Heidis, including one they raised from puppyhood.

“We love the fact that (the young Heidi) gets to come here and provide all these memories for people, but at the same time she has to be cared for so she can be successful at her job,” Leslie Skellenger said.

Into the wild

The Oregon Zoo will be releasing 1,478 growing caterpillars on prairies in central Washington, helping re-establish populations of Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies.

The caterpillar larvae had been roused from seven-month dormancy last month and put into rearing cups at the zoo’s Imperiled Butterfly Conservation Lab.

Meanwhile, 281 larvae will remain at the zoo and complete transformation into adult butterflies, a population meant for breeding and producing caterpillars for release next year.

The zoo has raised more than 20,000 checkerspots for release since recovery efforts began in 2004. For more: www.oregonzoo.org.

Portland Beer Week

Mark your calendar for the sixth annual Portland Beer Week, presented by Portland Brewing Co. The 11-day festival will take place June 9-19 and features breweries from all over the country.

The event has partnered with Oregon State University to offer industry people a series of seminars, from beer branding to marketing, to barrel aging and sour and wild ale. Blue Star Donuts is releasing a special beer donut and Salt & Straw Ice Cream an official beer flavor.

For more: www.pdxbeerweek.com.

Portland Dining Month

We’ll have more on Thursday about Portland Dining Month, which officially starts March 1.

The seventh annual Portland Dining Month includes 122 restaurants (up from 115 last year) offering three-course, prix-fixe dinners for $29 every night of the week throughout March.

For the complete list of restaurants and prix-fixe menus: www.travelportland.com/dining month.