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International Rose Test Garden
Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrThe International Rose Test Garden is a renowned rose garden located in Washington Park Portland, about two miles west of Downtown Portland, Oregon. It is unofficially known as the ‘Portland Rose Garden’ and is the oldest, continuously operated, public rose garden in the United States. One of the 24 official testing sites for the internationally respected All-America Rose Selections, the garden features more than 10,000 individual plants of more than 700 different species of roses.
Newly bred rose cultivars constantly arrive in the garden to be tested for fragrance, color; flower production, form; hardiness, resistance to diseases; and other attributes. The International Rose Test Garden is the very reason for Portland’s nickname, the ‘City of Roses’. The garden is visited by hundreds of thousands of visitors – tourists as well as locals – every year.
HistoryPortland has always had a close relationship with roses. As early as the 1880s, Georgiana Pittock, wife of publisher and Portland tycoon, Henry Pittock (who lived in the Pittock Mansion), invited her friends and neighbors to showcase their roses in her garden. This was the beginning of the Portland Rose Society.
In the 1890s a new hybrid tea rose was developed in France by nurseryman, Joseph Pernet-Ducher. He was asked by businesswoman, Madame Caroline Testout, to name the rose after her. He did so, and she displayed the new roses at one of her spring fashion salons, where they became an immediate hit. The fame of the ‘Madame Caroline Testout’ rose spread across Europe and made its way across the Atlantic to the United States as well. In the late 19th century, almost half a million bushes of the rose were planted along the sidewalks of Portland, and by 1905 the city had no less than 322 kilometers of rose-lined streets. This spectacular of color helped attract visitors to the Lewis and Clark Centennial Celebration. This was when Portland first became known as the ‘City of Roses’.
The idea for a rose test garden came from Jesse A. Currey, who in 1915 proposed to establish a safe haven for European hybrid roses during the First World War. The idea was approved in 1917 and by 1918, rose growers from England were sending over roses to Portland. Growers from other countries started to ship their roses soon after, making the garden an immediate success.
Nowadays, the International Rose Test Garden is an award-winning and world-renowned rose garden, one of the finest on the planet.
FeaturesThe International Rose Test Garden covers 4.5 acres on a hill just outside of the city center and offers fine views of Downtown Portland, East Portland, the Willamette River , and on clear days even of Mount Hood and the Cascade Mountains, home to North Cascades National Park. The garden’s area is divided into several sections.
International Rose Test GardenThis is the part the garden is most famous for. It is one of 24 testing sites for the All-America Rose Selections. Ever since the early decades of the 20th century, this garden has tested many of the world’s best roses. Here the plants are tested for attributes such as form, flower production; scent, colors; vigor, and foliage.
Miniature Rose Test GardenThe Miniature Rose Test Garden is one of only six testing sites for miniature roses in the United States. The winning roses of national competitions are showcased in the middle of the garden.
Shakespeare GardenDating from 1945, the Shakespeare Garden is one of the most popular spots in the garden. Originally intended to only include herbs, flowers, and trees that were mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays, now it also has roses that are named after the characters in those plays.
Royal Rosarian GardenThe Royal Rosarian Garden features roses named after all past Prime Ministers of the Royal Rosarians, a group that serves as the official goodwill ambassadors and greeters of the City of Portland. Every rosarian is knighted and adopts a rose as their namesake. This small garden is home to several roses that aren’t commercially available anymore.
Visiting the International Rose Test GardenIn addition to the different rose gardens, there is also a gift shop, an amphitheater that hosts many events, several sculptures, and a wedding venue.
The garden is open every day from 7.30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and admission and parking is free. The peak blooming season is between late May and September.
How to Get ThereThe International Rose Test Garden is located on S.W. Kingston Avenue in Washington Park, approximately two miles from the city center. The most convenient way to get there is by the MAX light rail’s Blue and Red Lines. The MAX Washington Park station lies close to the entrance. Another type of public transport is TriMet Bus 63, which runs from downtown to Washington Park, stopping near many of the area’s attractions. Getting to the garden is also possibly on foot or by bicycle.
Similar and Nearby LandmarksOther attractions in Washington Park are the Oregon Zoo, the Portland Japanese Garden and the Hoyt Arboretum.
Botanic gardens elsewhere in the world that are worth visiting are the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, the gardens of Keukenhof and the New York Botanical Garden.
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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: Feb 23, 2015