Stop and Smell the Roses

Photo by Bill Reynolds

While most people consider Portland the land of hipsters and cold brew coffee, its formal nickname is actually City of Roses. But how did these non-native plants capture the city’s heart?

After using the flowers to promote the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition in 1905, Mayor Harry Lane decided to capitalize on the flowers’ popularity. He established the Portland Rose Festival in 1907, and the city quickly became known as a haven for rose lovers.

The International Rose Test Garden was conceived in 1915 as a place to protect budding species of European roses from the violence of WWI. Since its approval by the Park Bureau in 1917, the garden has been preserving historic breeds and encouraging cutting-edge innovation.

For over twenty years, the garden, located in Portland’s Washington Park, has hosted the Portland’s Best Rose award selection and ceremony, judged by experts from around the world. Thousands of roses are expected to be submitted for the 2018 event.

See more than 650 varieties of rose by visiting the International Rose Test Garden, open daily, or meet at the gift shop at 12:45 p.m. any day between Labor Day and Memorial Day for a free guided tour.

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