international rose test garden


After the World Forestry Discovery Museum, I hopped on a shuttle right in front of the musuem, zoo, and MAX train to go to the International Rose Test Garden. The shuttle is free and travels on a winding skinny road down the mountain with beautiful houses to gaze at around every turn. The shuttle takes about 10 minutes and drops off right in front of the international rose test gardens. According to the International Rose Test Gardens website...

"In 1888, Georgiana Burton Pittock, wife of pioneer publisher Henry Pittock, invited her friends and neighbors to exhibit their roses in a tent set up in her garden. Thus began the annual rose show for Portland Rose Society. Jesse A. Currey, a former Rose Society president, convinced city fathers to inaugurate a rose test garden in 1917 with the support of the American Rose Society, City officials, and civic –minded citizens. At that time, Portland had 20 miles of rose-bordered streets – a strategy to draw attention to the 1905 Lewis and Clark Centennial celebration. As a result, Portland was dubbed “City of Roses”. The garden was a perfect opportunity for enhancing that reputation.

Founded in 1917, Portland’s International Rose Test Garden is the oldest official, continuously operated public rose test garden in the United States. In the beginning, even though World War I was raging in Europe, hybridists sent roses from around the world to Portland’s garden for testing and to keep the new hybrids safe from being destroyed by the bombing in Europe.

The primary purpose of the garden is to serve as a testing ground for new rose varieties. The City of Portland Gold Medal Awards are issued annually to the best introductions. The first “Gold Medal” rose award was given in 1919, making it the oldest rose testing program of its kind in the United States. Portland is the only North American City to issue such awards. These award winning varieties are planted in the Gold Medal Garden."

Right upon entering the gardens, you know it's going to be beautiful. Roses and color everywhere, and a view of the city beyond...



The garden is broken up into sections and a tour guide can be picked up in the gift shop, but I preferred to stroll about aimlessly...



















Even the lamp posts were covered in roses...


Bees were everywhere, which was so nice to see...



There are benches throughout the garden, plenty of comfortable grassy expanses, and an ampitheatre where you can take a rest and eat a picnic lunch. I brought a sandwich with me, but had I known the weather would be so perfect and the gardens so beautiful, I would have brought more snacks and a book and just sat and relaxed for hours.


The Japanese Gardens are also right across the street if you haven't had enough flora for the day. (The Japanese Gardens do charge an admission fee unlike the International Rose Test Garden, but I'm sure it is well worth it). I was ready to head back so decided not to go. There was also a line of tennis courts at the front of the gardens. I am not sure if they are public or not, but it would be worth checking out.

When you're ready to head out, pick up the shuttle at any of the marked stops in front of the two gardens. It will drop you off directly in front of the MAX station so you can head back into the city. Tickets need to be purchased at parking lot level not down in the terminal so be sure to do that before you take the elevator down. The elevator was an experience in itself. Rather than floor levels, it showed how far you are above sea level as you travel. At the top, it is 710 feet above sea level.


It travels 260 feet below to the Robertson Tunnel where the MAX train comes through. The tunnel was VERY chilly.

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