This five-acre rose garden features fountains, paths, statues, art, tours, a charming gift shop full of rose-related gifts, and - of course - every kind of rose you could possibly imagine. Over 8,000 rose bushes from approximately 550 varieties are available for viewing up-close, creating a kaleidoscope of colors and an intoxicating potpourri of scents. There are climbers, grandifloras, hybrid teas, landscape roses, floribundas, and miniatures, just to name a few of the types of roses in this lush garden. Thousands of visitors come to see and smell the numerous flowers every year. Because it's set in the West Hills above downtown Portland, various places in the garden offer spectacular views, including a nice view of Mt. Hood and the Cascade mountains.
In 1905, officials had planted 20 miles of rose-bordered streets in order to draw attention to the Lewis and Clark Centennial Celebration. This earned Portland the name "City of Roses.'' A former president of the Portland Rose Society, Jesse A. Currey, rounded up numerous supporters to encourage the city fathers to create a rose test garden. The purpose of the garden was to test new rose varieties, but it must have appealed to city officials as an attraction that would heighten Portland's reputation for having beautiful roses. This garden, completed in 1917, is the oldest continually operated and official public rose test garden in the US and contains various roses from around the world. During World War I, Europeans sent many new hybrids to this testing site in order to prevent them from being destroyed by the current bombings. It is a non-profit attraction that is free to viewers, and is maintained by over 500 hours yearly of volunteer service.
There are numerous different gardens with different themes contained within the test site. The Gold Medal Garden contains every selection from the yearly Gold Medal award. The International Rose Test Garden contains exceptional roses from the All-American Rose Selection (AARS). These roses there are tested on 14 characteristics, including color, disease resistance, form, foliage, fragrance, and habitat. The Miniature Rose Garden is unique in that it only tests miniature roses. There are only 5 similar testing grounds owned by the ARS. The Shakespeare garden is a popular spot that only contains trees, flowers, and herbs that were mentioned in Shakespearian plays and roses named after Shakespearian characters. The Queen's Walk honors Queens of Portland's Rose Festival, Oregon's premier civic celebration since 1907, with a bronze star for each crowned Queen.
Tourists agree that this garden is a must-see for anyone visiting Portland, and some declare that it's worth a special trip to Portland just to see the many brilliant flowers. There are many picnic areas, and a amphitheater there hosts events such as concerts and plays. Roses bloom from April to October and reach their peak in June, so visitors and owners recommend visiting the place in mid-summer.