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Portland is known as the City of Roses, but where did that name really come from? The International Rose Test Garden and its origin in the preservation of a great variety of roses began with the onset of World War One. With so many individuals trying to protect their roses, many ended up sending them to Portland where they have only grown in number since.

The aroma of the roses fills the air of the International Rose Test Garden and stimulates the mind and soul nearly as much as the sight of 10,000 carefully cared-for roses. Travelers with an appreciation for the flower will have an excellent time checking out Portland’s rose garden. Partaking in their obsession with the rose is one of many exciting things to do in Portland.


Portland’s Obsession With Its Rose Garden

Portland has had a long obsession with the rose, particularly when it comes to their garden, the International Rose Test Garden. It all began when the local Rose Society planted 20 miles of the flower to honor the Lewis and Clark Exposition in 1905.

Ten years after that event, Jesse Currey, the president of the society, was able to successfully persuade the city to create a test garden. Its purpose was to save and cultivate rose varieties from Europe during World War I.

I would be named the International Rose Test Garden. It would nurture and provide sanctuary to a great number of rose plants. Today, the garden is home to 10,000 rose plants stemming from 610 varieties of species.

Travelers visiting the garden are immediately greeted with an incredible scent that wafts through the entirety of the place. The roses become exceptionally aromatic in the afternoon, during the warmest parts of the day.

Getting Around The Rose Garden

The International Rose Test Garden’s 10,000 individual rose bushes bloom from May through October each year. Travelers visiting the garden will be able to enjoy the sight of over 610 different rose varieties.

The majority of the roses that travelers will find in the garden are available commercially. The garden is known to release 10-20 of the best varieties annually onto the market.

The Rose Gardens' original and primary purpose has been to serve as a testing facility for new rose varieties.

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During the events of WWI, herbalists from across the world sent roses to Portland in the hopes that they may find a home there for testing and preservation.

Today, the garden is divided into several sections. There is the Royal Rosarian Garden, and its secret rose society. There is the Shakespear Garden and its memorial.

And finally, there is the Miniature Rose Garden and its kaleidoscope of colors.

The Royal Rosarian Garden

Tracing its roots back to the very origin of Portland's rose garden, the Royal Rosarian Garden is named after the Order of the Royal Rosarians. They were the secret rose society behind the origin of the garden.

Today, their members are the official greeters and goodwill ambassadors of Portland. Travelers visiting this section of the garden can also find a bench dedicated to Jesse Currey, the garden’s founder.

The Shakespeare Garden

Fans of the prolific poet and playwright will enjoy the selection of roses named after characters from his iconic works. There is even a memorial to Shakespeare that sits in the lush flowers with a simple quote reminding visitors to appreciate and take in the beauty that surrounds them

Miniature Rose Garden

The Miniature Rose Garden is pretty much as its name suggests. It is the area where they test miniature species of roses.

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This garden is known for its Kaleidoscopic viewing effect and is the location for winners of the Gold Award for the best new variety of roses.

Tour Groups

Travelers looking to partake in a tour will find that the garden offers tour groups that are great for all ages. They are available seasonally starting in the spring.

It is usually advised that travelers allow four weeks for planning, so they should be sure to book in advance.

Memorial Day through Labor Day individuals, families, and small groups are welcome to take a daily tour at 1 pm. It meets at the Rose Garden Store before it begins its journey around the garden.

  • Tour Booking - 503-823-3664

Getting To The International Rose Garden

Travelers visiting Portland can take advantage of the transit and shuttle options available at Washington Park. Parking can also be found using apps like Parking Kitty.

Shuttles and public transit are available from the airport to the gardens, but travelers should expect to spend 30 minutes to an hour commuting to the gardens.