Oregon Road Trip: Portland’s International Rose Test Garden Passes with Flying Colors
Our family road trip in July had finally brought us to Portland. Last week I lamented on how I was a little burnt out on Japanese gardens. We had visited a lot of them in the past two years, including some of the best in Kyoto. It was time to move on.
However, right after we visited the Portland Japanese Garden, we hopped down the steps in Washington Park to check out the International Rose Test Garden. We were there, we had a great parking spot; Mike and I figured why not? We might get a few new ideas for our own garden.
Let’s just say I had the opposite reaction to the Japanese garden.
Seattle has a test rose garden on the south end of the Woodland Park Zoo. Portland’s rose garden is at least double, no triple, the size of the one in Seattle.
What an incredible public space for the city inhabitants and visitors to enjoy!
Color burst from every crevice. Rows of orange, red, purple, cream and gold struck my retina, overwhelming my eyeballs with saturated color.
I can’t even describe the scent. Imagine one beautiful bouquet of roses. Got it? Ok, now imagine walking down a street and catching a wave of that bouquet every few feet. The smell drifts through your nose; sweet, spicy, soapy.
Yes, it can smell a little like the inside of a Crabtree & Evelyn store from time to time, but it was not overpowering. It was a welcome break from the car exhaust we had inhaled on the drive from Cannon Beach to Portland.
Our visit was pretty simple. We stalked a few monks visiting the Gold Medal Garden. Dek ran around the amphitheatre. Mike and I walked away with a few new names of roses that we would look for next spring at the flower nurseries to add to our collection.
Tip for husbands: If you have a nice rose or cut flower garden in your backyard you can just clip a few stems anytime the woman in your life starts to complain you never give her flowers. It took Mike 12 years to learn that one.
If we had thought ahead we could have brought a picnic lunch to enjoy on the lawn while doing a little people watching. We had no time to stop though. I’d promised Dek that we would go to the zoo. We were off to explore a few new animals.
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written by Keryn Means