Portland’s International Rose Test Garden

The International Rose Test Garden is a world famous rose garden, found in Washington Park, Portland, Oregon. The garden contains an expansive collection of rare, varied, and beautiful roses, over 7000 plants of approximately 550 varieties. New breeds of rose are often sent to the rose garden to be tested for colour, and fragrance, and the garden is the USA’s longest running rose test garden, having been conceived by Oregon Journal editor Jesse A. Currey in 1915 and approved by Portland Parks in 1917. The first roses began arriving at the garden in 1918, brought over from Europe to be safeguarded from disappearing during World War 1.


Free to visit, the garden covers over 4.5 acres, and is divided into three smaller gardens, the Royal Rosarian Garden, the Shakespeare Garden and the Miniature Rose Garden, to be explored at your own pace. Rose varieties during my visit included Sugar Moon, with an incredible white colour and intense perfume, Twilight Zone, and Double Delight. I particularly loved the two toned roses, in scarlet pink and white, which I had never seen before!

The Rose Garden is a  classic, unmissable Portland day out, and in the peak season, May through September, it is a truly wonderful, timeless sort of experience. A perfumed afternoon wandering down the rows of thousands upon thousands of roses, with Portland’s cityscape to gaze up at, every once in a while, surrounded by couples, families and tourists (there are hundreds of thousands of visitors yearly), all taking a moment to enjoy the incredible flowers, is a magical way to spend a few hours, particularly on the edge of sunset on a clear day, when everything is set in gold.