Portland’s International Rose Test Garden
Walking through the gardens of Washington Park in Portland’s West Hills is a surreal experience. You have to drive up to the area through a neighborhood of gorgeous estates then walk down into the gardens from a stone lined enclosure. It feels like stepping through the looking glass into the garden of the Red Queen in Wonderland. It was especially surreal since we tried to go up to the gardens at the beginning of Spring, but they were completely bare.
Portland’s love for roses started over a century ago. It began with the Pittocks starting the Portland Rose Society and sharing their cross pollinations and different types of roses with each other at shows. Roses became such a fascination, Portland was adorned with the name ‘City of Roses.’ The city residents and policy makers even planted the thorny, flowered bushes all along the cities sidewalks. There were 20 miles of Rose lined streets at one point in time throughout the city. The International Rose Test Garden was started to show all of the different hybrids that rose enthusiasts were breeding as well as to have a place for the public to enjoy them and not wander into someone ones personal garden or yard. It’s a safe haven for European Rose varieties to grow during World War I, away from the bombings and trench digging that was going on.
I love learning the history of beautiful places like the Rose Test Gardens. Even more, I love experiencing the beauty it offers with Jade. Being able to walk among such beauty and color I think allows both of us to find whole new ways to utilize our creativity. One of our favorite parts about exploring the roses has to be the interesting and sometimes hilarious names of the different breeds including the Ketchup and Mustard, the My Girl, the Singin’ the Blues, the Doctor Dick, and the Social Climber.
It’s almost hard to believe that a place like this exists in our own backyard and this is the first time we have been able to experience it together.
If you are in Portland or planning a visit, I urge you to visit the gardens…