The scent from thousands of blooms greets you in one of the world’s finest and most important rose gardens.
There is no better place to see why they call Portland The City of Roses than its 4.5-acre (1.8-hectare) floral feature, the International Rose Test Garden. Part of Washington Park, the garden is set on terraces in the West Hills overlooking the city, about three miles from Downtown Portland. It’s the oldest of its kind in the United States.
Established in 1917, the garden became a haven to preserve roses sent from war-ravaged Europe. Today, it’s an official site to test varieties for color, fragrance and pest resistance before they are named and released onto the market.
See what makes a winning rose in the Gold Medal Garden, planted with all the best new blooms of previous years. Try to pick out next years winner in the rose-testing beds with a collection of yet-to-be-named varieties.
Take in the classical beauty of the Shakespeare Garden, once filled exclusively with the trees, flowers and herbs mentioned in the great bard’s plays. Because of the many trees in this area, most of the original plants have been replaced with shade-tolerant varieties. Shakespeare is still represented, however, by several rose species named in his honor.
At the foot of the garden you’ll find Queen’s Walk, a pathway lined with bronze plaques naming the present and past queens of the annual Portland Rose Festival. Roses are in bloom from June to October, but summer is definitely the best time to visit. June usually has the most spectacular floral displays and for the first two weeks of the month, free plays and classical music concerts are held in the amphitheater.
All year round you’ll find the garden a wonderful place to picnic and take photographs, especially on a clear day when there’s a superb view of Mount Hood. The garden is open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Admission is free as are the guided tours led by volunteers.