When it comes to public rose test gardens in the United States, Portland’s Rose Test Garden in Washington Park has the honor of being the oldest that has been in continuous operation since its founding in 1917. The grounds are separated into many areas, each with its own set of flora and spaces. New rose kinds, including miniatures, are cultivated in the garden, while those that have won awards in the past are planted in the Gold Award Garden, which also has a pretty gazebo.
When the flowers are in full bloom in late spring is the greatest time to visit. On days with good skies, garden visitors can see downtown Portland, OR area and Mount Hood. Although parking at the International Rose Test Garden can be challenging, the city has numerous public transportation choices for visitors. Peninsula Park Rose Garden, Portland’s other beautiful rose garden, is located on the opposite bank of the river in a sunken landscape.
The International Rose Test Garden (IRTG) is home to more than 610 unique rose types, all of which are represented by more than 10,000 individual rose bushes that bloom from late May through October. Most of the rose varieties displayed in the Garden can be purchased elsewhere. Every year, we replace about 10–20 of our rose types with the best new introductions to the market. Depending on the year and the weather, you can enjoy roses from late May all the way through October. The Garden’s major use is as a demonstration site for experimental roses. Hybridists from all over the world sent roses to Portland’s garden to be tested at the outset of the war, during World War I.
Seasonal, beginning in the spring, for a small per-person fee, guided group tours are offered. Make sure you call ahead and set up an appointment. Planning needs a minimum of four weeks of notice. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, the Rose Garden Store is where individuals, families, and small groups can go on a daily tour at 1 pm.
Gardening and non-gardening volunteer options are offered. Work in the garden consists of things like weeding, planting, trimming, painting signs, and making enhancements. Some examples of non-garden related work include: strategic planning, fundraising, updating instructional materials, providing garden tours, keeping inventory records, and coordinating volunteer efforts.
The Portland Rose Society has been active in the community since 1889, providing educational programs on rose culture and promoting the use of roses in the landscape.