Portland’s Rose Garden and Japanese Garden

Portland is a city that has a lot of green space scattered around. There are lots of little parks around town and then several big parks and recreational areas. A great area to explore on a nice day is the Southwest corner of Portland where you’ll find the Rose Garden and the Japanese Garden.

The Rose Garden is a test garden, where botanists and scientists test out new hybrids of roses.  They’ll breed different roses together, or try breeding roses with other species. It’s actually the oldest in the country!There are so many unique varieties and colors to explore while you’re ready. My favorite were the magnolia and rose hybrids because they smelled amazing!

Situated on small, easily walkable terraces, the Rose Garden is beautiful. Brick lined sidewalks meander through rows of flowers, all of which bloom at different times during the year so you’ll always have a chance to smell the flowers.

If you’ve already made the trek out to the Rose Garden, I definitely recommend stopping at the Japanese Garden as well. It’s closed this year for renovations, but I visited in 2012 and absolutely loved it. With nearly 6 acres, it’s a nice way to spend an afternoon outside. And on the clear day I was there with Sam in 2012, we could even see Mt Hood in the distance!

There are several different walks and paths you can take around the park to see all five main gardens. The different garden are styled in traditional Japanese landscape architectural designs. Of the 5 gardens, there is a tea garden as well as a zen sand and stone garden, which I really enjoyed. It’s a relaxing and tranquil place to wander around!

There are helpful signs all around if you’re not familiar with Japanese landscape design (which I certainly was not) so you’ll probably learn something during your visit too! Here are a few fun facts I learned:

  • Japanese gardens should always consist of 3 main elements- stone, water, plants.
  • They will also include more decorative (or secondary) elements like pagodas, bridges and lanterns.
  • These gardens were started in the early 1960s, and are some of the only independent Japanese gardens outside of Japan




Author: Megan Arz

I am a travel and food obsessed Midwesterner living in Chicago and dreaming of the world. I work as a full-time program manager for Greenheart Travel, but I am also committed to integrating the travel lifestyle into my every day routines. I am passionate about ethical travel, meeting new people, creating unique memories and eating local cuisine!

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