Portland is often referred to as the City of Roses because the climate creates the perfect conditions for growing roses. Nowhere is this more evident than at the exceptional Portland Rose Garden in Washington Park.
Home to more than 10,000 rose bushes and over 650 varieties of roses, this lovely garden invites visitors to slow down and enjoy the natural beauty of roses.
What’s more, the Portland International Rose Test Garden is the oldest continuously operated public rose garden in America and attracts an estimated 700,000 visitors annually.
In this post, I’ll cover everything you need to know before visiting the Portland Rose Garden. Enjoy!
The Portland Rose Garden
Helpful tips for visiting the Portland International Rose Test Garden
- The rose garden is exposed and shade is hard to come by so don’t forget to pack your sunscreen. I’ve been using this one the past six years, after discovering it in France. You’ll never catch me without it.
Parking is limited
- Parking is extremely limited at the Portland Rose garden and fills up quickly during warm, sunny weekends. The rate is $2 per hour or $8 all day, parking enforced daily from 9:30am to 8pm.
- Free shuttle service is offered from April through October. The shuttle runs every 15 minutes from 9am to 7pm and can take you directly to the entrance of the rose garden.
There is no admission fee
- It doesn’t get better than free! The Portland International Rose Test Garden is open to the public and free to enjoy. Feel free to stroll through the grounds at your leisure.
Best time to visit the Portland Rose Garden
By and large, roses bloom between May and September. For peak bloom at the Portland Rose Garden, you will want to visit at the end of June.
History of the Portland Rose Garden
Originally started in 1915 by Jesse Currey, (an editor at the Oregon Journal and passionate rose hobbyist), the Portland International Rose Test Garden was established in an effort to preserve roses susceptible to destruction during World War I.
Today, the garden is a testing ground for new varieties of roses. Roses are sent to the Portland Rose Garden to be planted and studied. The curator at the Portland International Rose Test Garden researches and evaluates the roses to deem their viability for commercial use, which is why this is called a rose “test” garden.
Portland International Rose Test Garden Map
The Portland Rose Garden has several smaller sections worth exploring, such as: The Shakespeare Garden, Miniature Rose Garden, the Golden Award Garden and the Royal Rosarian Garden.
I especially like the Golden Award Garden because it houses award-winning roses from previous years neatly in one spot. It’s fun to find the winning rose the year you were born!
Local Tip: The Shakespeare Garden is a great place to take a little break from the roses because they can be overstimulating both visually and fragrantly.
Free Rose Garden Tours
To learn more about the 650 varieties of roses planted in the garden (or roses in general), you can join a free guided tour. Tours are offered daily at 1pm from Memorial Day to Labor Day by trained volunteers.
Additionally, guided tours for groups of 10 or more are available and cost $5 per person. To schedule, call 503-823-3664 at least two weeks in advance.
Who tends to the Portland Rose Garden?
The Portland Rose Garden is tended to by one full-time curator and two part-time assistants. Every plant is pruned by hand annually by hundreds of volunteers. Go, Portland!
Apart from one fertilization per year and sprinklers during dry months, the fate of the roses is left in the hands of mother nature — insecticides are forbidden and ladybugs are employed to handle aphids and pests.
Award | The Portland International Rose Test Garden received The Garden of Excellence Award in 2006 from the World Federation of Rose Societies.
P.S. Don’t forget to visit Oregon’s Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival while you’re in town! Read: Guide to the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival.
I hope you enjoy your time at the lovely Portland Rose Garden!
Until next time,