Portland’s International Rose Test Garden

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International Rose Test GardenmMy wife likes roses – what woman doesn’t? But let’s face it, even in the City of Roses, the little buggers are expensive. So, what’s the alternative? In most cities, it’s not buying the flowers and sleeping on the couch or buying the flowers and sleeping in a cardboard box.

Not so in Portland!

Here, you can just take her to the International Rose Garden, four acres of aromatic flowers surrounded by fountains and mountains and just a hop, skip and a jump away from the Oregon Zoo and Hoyt Arboretum, and an easy trek by car, bicycle or MAX.

The International Rose Test Garden (not to be confused with the Rose Garden Arena, home to the Trail Blazers and biannual tours by Billy Joel and Elton John) features 10,000 rose plants and a mind boggling 500+ varieties of roses. The vast garden, founded in 1917, is responsible for giving Portland the honored nickname, “City of Roses”.

Popular sections of the garden include: MINIATURE ROSE GARDENSHAKESPEARE GARDEN and QUEEN’S WALK.

Standing in this garden, it’s hard to fathom that I’m in the middle of a large city. Once we step out of our car and down the hill into the valley of the garden, we were transported into a world of fragrance and splendor that would make Queen Elizabeth envious.

Walking past the Frank L. Beach Memorial Fountain, erected in 1974 and named for the man largely responsible for the City’s nickname, my ever inquisitive son asks what the fountains all about. As I’m answering him, he runs off, down the path, past the yellow roses, the red, the black, the vibrant orange, the white. My wife and I chase him down, grins on our faces, squeals emitting from my son. I pick him up and put him over my shoulders and walk, his little legs wrapped around my neck, my wife holding my hand. She smiles at me and takes time to quite literally smell the roses. She smiles at me in a way that tells me I will most certainly not be sleeping on the couch this evening.

This is the best of all worlds: Close to home, free, gorgeous and family friendly. After a picnic on the lawn as the sun sets, my family and I pack up and mosey back towards our parked car. My son plays on the playground across from our car while I pack up the car. By the time we get home, our son is asleep and my wife and I get some time to be alone.

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