Tranquility in Portland OR

Portland Rose Garden

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Beautiful Roses




The Portland Rose Garden

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Statures dot this garden


The International Rose Test Garden is better known as the Portland Rose Garden. It is home to hundreds of wild, domestic, and hybrid rose species from all over the world, including continuous installments of new species every year, as they win contests. The garden was initiated prior to World War I, as a way to preserve European rose species. The garden is free to the public, and roses will be in bloom from April to October (though June is your best bet for most blooms).

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Portland OR Skyline


Ironically, what I notice first about the garden is not the rows upon rows of winding paths and virtual rainbow of rose bushes, but rather the view. The Garden is located at the top of a hill that overlooks the city, and on clear days you can get a breathtaking expanse of architecture sprawling beneath the singular majesty of Mount Hood, off in the distance. The best place to stand in awe, in my opinion, is on the concrete staircase descending into the heart of the gardens themselves. Many of my fellow tourists whipping out smart phones to take pictures along with me, so I consider myself to be in good company.


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Walking Paths

As I tear my eyes away from the view and trot down the steps, I expect to descend into a veritable cloud of competing flowery fragrances, but the open air of the Garden makes this a non-issue. In truth, you only notice the scent of any given rose if you stick your nose into one. Of course, some roses simply don’t have a fragrance at all! It’s all in how they are bred.

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Roses Everywhere

Because the Garden is on a hillside, there are many levels to it. All are connected by gently meandering paths and short stairs and ramps. There is an open-air amphitheater, made of wide grassy tiers. There are also arches covered in climbing roses, and an impressive fountain by the visitor’s center and gift shop.  Towering douglas-firs surround the perimeter of the Garden like sentinels.  A soft breeze ruffles my hair, and between tree trunks and roses I can still glimpse the view of the city and the mountain. This place is so peaceful.

As I stroll down rows and down the levels of the Garden, I find myself in absolute awe of the sheer variety I see around me. Some grow as teeny clumps, as if they are victims of a villain’s shrink ray, with their may petals tightly clustered; others soar above my head and dance in the slight breeze, with so few petals they could have been mistaken for gardenias. 

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Beautiful Tranquility in the heart of Portland

There is everything in between, and they are each a different color. I see roses so deeply hued they are nearly purple or black, and others a sweet buttery yellow. There are roses the color of cooked salmon, and still others that are a bright, Halloween orange. Some roses are mottled in color, like tie-dye. Some plants have thorns, and others do not.


These plants, I can’t help thinking as I gaze about in wonder, are as varied as humanity itself. Tall and short, bright and subtle, fragrant and not. These roses come in every shape and size imaginable, just like us.

Paths of People and Roses


Maybe demonstrating that is not why the International Rose Test Garden was founded, per se, but it sure seems to be a potent side effect. 


If you have not stopped at the Portland Rose Garden when you are visiting family or friends, maybe this is the year you should!!



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Kyra Boyle Exploring Portland

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