A visit to Portland’s world famous International Rose Test Garden is truly a treat for the senses. The heady fragrance of thousands of roses greets you even before you see them. Here on 4.5 acres in the city’s Washington Park, high above Portland’s hustle and bustle, visitors will delight in the sights and aromas of more than 10,000 individual plants and 650 different varieties of gorgeous roses.
With whimsical names like Angel Face, Candy Cane Cocktail, Carmel Kisses, Champagne Wishes, First Crush, Falling in Love and Jump for Joy, giant blooms and tiny tea varieties give approximately 700,000 visitors a year something to smile about.
Barbra Streisand, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Pope John Paul II, Dale Chihuly, Ingrid Bergman, George Burns, Coretta Scott King, Dick Clark, Marilyn Monroe and England’s Queen Elizabeth are among the luminaries who have a namesake rose here.
While the peak month for rose viewing is June, our visit in August was sensational. According to the Portland Parks & Recreation Department, which owns and manages the Rose Garden, roses are in bloom from May through October.
Plan accordingly–we arrived in April one time and were disappointed to see we’d come too early. We enjoyed a stroll through the lovely Japanese Gardens across the street instead (see earlier blog post).
The oldest continuously operating public rose test garden in the U.S., Portland’s International Rose Test Garden just celebrated its 100th birthday. The centennial was marked this August with music and other activities.
During its 100 years of operation the Rose Test Garden has served as just that—a testing ground for new varieties of this floral favorite. During World War I, the Garden also became home and protector of European-grown rose varieties threatened by bombing.
To get the most from your visit, download a self-guided tour from the Rose Garden website www.portlandoregon.gov/parks or join one of the free guided tours offered daily at 1 p.m. from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Enjoy the roses during your visit but remember, absolutely no plantings or cuttings can be removed from the Garden.
Admission to the Rose Garden is free. There is limited metered parking available but it can be a challenge to find due to construction in Washington Park. Consider taking public transportation or a ride share to reach the Garden. Take Trimet MAX to Washington Park and then use the free shuttle from the station that runs throughout the Park.
The next time Portland, Oregon is on your itinerary, treat yourself to a visit here and find out why it’s called the Rose City. And take time to smell, the well… you know!