A Gardener's Paradise
the 'City of Roses' and much, much more
a few April showers bring May flowers, what do plentiful Pacific
Northwest showers bring to the city of Portland? A gardener's paradise
of lush green foliage and waves of blossoms nearly year round!
to mild winters, sunny summers and a reliable water supply, Portland
is home to a collection of some of the most beautiful and diverse
public gardens in any American city.
International Rose Test Garden
The most famous of Portland's gardens is the International Rose
Test Garden, located in the Washington Park area at 400 SW Kingston
St. Here roses of every color and variety are displayed in neat
beds in a terraced park overlooking the city.
since its founding in 1917, the garden has received the best roses
from around the world. At first, European enthusiasts rushed to
send hybrids to the new garden, hoping to save rare specimens from
destruction during World War I. Today, growers send samples to be
judged every June during the Portland Rose Festival, when experts
inspect blooms and choose winners in the prestigious Portland Best
the visitor, the International Rose Test Garden promises row after
row of fragrant flowers during spring, summer and even into the
fall months. Most of the garden is arranged for viewing by category
with each colorful variety clearly marked for identification. Volunteers
are available for questions as they deadhead bushes to ensure better
special note are the dramatic Shakespeare Garden, which features
botanicals mentioned in the bard's works planted along formal walkways,
and the Gold Medal Garden, which displays award-winning roses along
beautiful paths surrounding a fountain. Admission is free, but donations
in winter months rose bushes are cut back to stems.
To The International Rose Test Garden: Take West Burnside Street
heading west, turn left on SW Tichner Street, turn right on SW Kingston
Avenue, park in the lot near tennis courts, then walk down stairs
to the Rose Garden.
water features and carefully placed decorative rocks
make every secluded corner of the Japanese Garden something
special to discover.
Only a few hundred feet from the International Rose Test Garden, but
a world away, lies one of the most authentic, Japanese gardens outside
of Japan. Situated on a hilltop above the rose gardens, Portland's
Japanese garden offers visitors tranquility, beauty and relaxation
through five formal gardening styles including a pond garden, a natural
setting garden, a sand and stone garden, a flat garden and traditional
Because the Japanese believe gardens are for reflection, colorful
blossoms (which can be too exciting) are kept to minimum. The breathtakingly
beautiful tapestry of calming greens, browns and grays are disturbed
only in spring when the azaleas bloom in pinks and purples, and in
fall when the maple leaves turn brilliant red.
addition to elegantly manicured plantings, the Japanese Garden is
known for one of the best views of Mt. Hood, and for the sparkling
orange, purple and gold residents of its koi pond.
Directions To The Japanese Garden: Follow
directions for the International Rose Test Garden. The parking area
is well marked. Either walk up wooded hillside path to the entrance
or take the free shuttle from the parking area.
The Classical Chinese Garden
Dedicated in 2000, the Classical Chinese Garden is an authentic Suzhou-style
garden on a full city block in the heart of Portland's Chinatown neighborhood
at NW Everett Street and Third Avenue.
Painstakingly built by artisans from Portland's Chinese sister city,
Suzhou, the garden is designed to slowly reveal its orchids, bamboo
and waterfalls as you wind through paths, stroll under archways and
look through windows. Around each bend is a carefully constructed,
picture-perfect arrangement of flowers, trees, rocks and water. Each
vista is framed in beautiful architectural elements.
And after a stroll, what better way to relax than with a cup of authentic
Chinese tea? Here in a recreated 16th Century, Sung-style Chinese
teahouse, you can enjoy teas from around the world as you ponder the
cosmos in the garden's traditional reflecting pond.
To The Chinese Garden: Drive to NW Everett and Third Avenue where
on-street, metered parking is available, or take the light rail system
to the Old Town/Chinatown stop.
one of China's most beloved gardening forms, Portland's
Classical Chinese Garden promises artfully landscaped
beauty behind every opening in this tranquil urban space.
Peninsula Park Rose Garden
Although it is not as well known as the International Rose Test
Garden, the Peninsula Park Rose Garden is older, and in the opinion
of many devotees, more beautiful. It is a classic sunken formal
garden, planted in 1900 and includes brick walkways, a historic
gazebo bandstand, a central fountain and thousands of blooms displayed
in symmetrical plantings.
in the Piedmont neighborhood at 700 N. Portland Blvd., the garden
shares the park with a playground, sports facilities and the city's
oldest community center. Enjoy ambling through grass-lined paths,
dip your toes in the cool fountain waters or take in the view from
one of the many benches on the upper walkways where the thick fragrance
of roses wafts up from the blossoms below.
more than 8,000 plantings in the 2-acre site ensure a floral show
comparable to the test garden, Peninsula Park has one advantage
over its better-known counterpart: a relative lack of visitors.
On any give day you are likely to have this Paris-worthy park almost
all to yourself!
Directions To Peninsula Park Rose Garden:
Take I-5 North to the Portland Boulevard exit. Turn right onto Portland
Boulevard and then turn right onto Albina Street. Park on the street
parking close to the corner of Ainsworth and Albina streets to view
the park from its most impressive entrance.
Spring Rhododendron Gardens
What began in 1950 as a rhododendron test garden has blossomed into
a dazzling collection of rhododendron and azaleas amidst attractive
water features, winding gravel paths and stone masonry. Plantings
of rhododendron from around the world burst into color in the spring
months, then calm down to provide a tranquil, green habitat for
waterfowl throughout the summer and fall seasons.
gravel paths past waterfalls and lagoons as you take in the verdant
surroundings. For added fun, buy birdseed from the admission stand
(when available) to feed to ducks, geese and many other migrating
birds that make the park a temporary home. Signs along paths help
you identify the park's wildlife.
To The Rhododendron Gardens: Cross the Ross Island Bridge (US
26 E) heading east, take to 99E south ramp to SE McLoughlin Boulevard,
turn right onto SE 23rd, right onto SE Bybee and follow curve around
to SE 28th Avenue. The parking lot and park entrance are on the
left side of the street.
Portland Memory Garden
Established in 2002, this garden is especially created for sufferers
of Alzheimer's disease. Located at SE 104th Avenue and Powell Boulevard
in the southeast corner of Ed Benedict Park, the Memory Garden occupies
a quiet area away from other park activity and traffic noise.
with wheelchair-bound visitors in mind, raised plantings of colorful
aromatic flowers line wider paved, flat walkways. Ample benches
provide plenty of space for relaxing. One of only eight such memory
gardens in the country, this demonstration garden is meant to foster
understanding of Alzheimer's and its effects.
To The Memory Garden: Take I-84 East toward the airport then
merge onto I-205 heading south. Take Exit 19 (Division St./US 26E)
toward Gresham/Mt. Hood. Turn right onto SE Division, then left
onto SE 92nd, left onto SE Powell Boulevard, and then continue to
SE 104th Avenue.
only two feet across, Mill's End Park, the world's smallest
city park, is one Portland treasure that is easy to
miss - look closely for Leprechauns!
Botanical Gardens at 6704 SE 122 Avenue, could be Portland's very
own secret garden. Located in a residential southeast neighborhood,
the gardens were developed as Lilla Leach's personal effort to fulfill
her love of botany.
the 15-acre park features diverse growing areas and an impressive
collection of over 2,000 hybrids, native and non-native plants.
Among Leach's collections are species of alpines, medicinal herbs,
rock garden plants and camellias. A self-guided tour winds along
trails and affords views of firs, ferns and wildflowers in this
environment of lush, overflowing, mature plantings.
To Leach Gardens: Take I-205 to Foster Road (exit #17), head
east on Foster Road to SE 122 Avenue, turn right (south) and continue
for three blocks to the parking lot next to Johnson Creek. Walk
across the street to arrive at the Manor House and Gift Shop.
You Still Have Time - Mill's End Park
While not quite a garden, Mill's End Park, located downtown in the
middle of a crosswalk on Front Avenue at Taylor Street, is one of
Portland's most noteworthy green spaces. It was begun years ago
by Dick Fagen as a lighthearted way to fill in a hole, which had
been dug for a light pole that never arrived.
it is the world's smallest city park, at only two feet across! Fagen,
a columnist, planted a few flowers in the hole to improve his view.
Then he went on to write about the imaginary, wee inhabitants of
the park and the many festivities they staged under the flowers.
Now, years later, many Portlanders who share Fagen's sense of humor
add their own touches to the tiny park.