Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Visit to the City of Roses

I've just returned from spending the past week with Youngest Daughter in Portland, Oregon.  A visit to the "City of Roses" would not be complete without stopping by the beautiful International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park.  Situated on five acres overlooking the city with Mount Hood in the background, the garden has more than 550 varieties of roses.

The Portland garden is the oldest of 24 public rose test gardens in the United States for the AARS.  Much time and thought was given to the best time to visit Daughter, including working around her busy class and work schedule.  Obviously, bloom time at the Rose Garden was considered, but not the top priority for this visit.  By late May this scene should be transformed into a glorious riot of color. 

Nevertheless, walking around the many rows of hybrid teas, floribundas, and other varieties, a few blooms were spotted, like this 'Mordin Sunrise.'

And this 'What a Peach' hybrid tea.  I'm very reluctant to try my hand at planting tea roses, which need more TLC than I have time for, but visiting a test garden like this would be a good start for choosing the best varieties to plant.  Not only would you be able to get a true idea of what the blooms would look like, you would also have an idea of which plants were the most robust.  All of the roses here looked so healthy, but, even in the bud stage, there were certain varieties that looked especially vigorous.  Of course, what grows well in Portland might not do as well in the hot, humid summers and cold winters of Illinois, but a visit to a closer test garden--such as the Chicago Botanic Garden for me--would give a good idea of what roses do well in your particular area.

Not surprisingly, this area to the side of the test garden caught my eye and had to be checked out.

The Shakespeare garden contained many other plants besides roses, but only the roses were labelled.  I didn't find a Romeo or Juliet, but Thisbe, Hero, and Prospero were among those featured here.  I would love to see 'Fair Bianca' in bloom some time.

"A rose by any other name . . ."  Will always had a way with words:)

While Portland may be called "The City of Roses," at this time of year it could also be easily called "The City of Azaleas and Rhododendrons."  The roses might not be in full bloom yet, but everywhere I went, there were the most gorgeous displays of azaleas and rhodies I've ever seen. 

Earlier in the morning I had visited the Chinese Garden downtown (more on that in a later post) and was so impressed by the size of this rhododendron tree that I had to ask a guide to make sure that it was actually a rhododendron.  I've never seen ones that actually grew to tree size before!

I soon discovered the tree at the Chinese Garden was not an anomaly because throughout the city as well as at the Rose Garden, rhododenrons and azaleas often grew to tree-size. 

We Midwesterners just aren't used to a sight like this.

Back at home, there aren't any rhododendrons like these.  Instead I have lots of mundane chores to catch up on like unpacking, laundry, and trying to see how many strange e-mails I've supposedly sent out lately.  Apparently, I have been "spoofed"--a new term I've unfortunately become familiar with recently--and someone is sending out e-mails to everyone in my address book with my name on them.  It's a different account than what is listed in my profile, but if you happen to receive an e-mail from me with a strange subject heading, do not open it!   I apologize--I am certainly not endorsing any male enhancement products:)

The garden also is in dire need of attention, and the seedlings put under the care of Mr. Procrastinator aren't looking too good at the moment.  But all that will have to wait until the rain stops, and I catch up on some sleep...

Visiting the sites in Portland, including its many beautiful gardens, was definitely a treat, but the best part of my trip was, of course, spending time with these two sweeties. Mother's Day was a special treat this year since I hadn't seen my daughter or Coconut since August; a day at the beach was enjoyable with the two of them, even if it was too cold to stick a toe in the Pacific.  I can't wait until they can come home for a long visit in July!


  1. Dear Rose...the last photograph is lovely....I just wanted to jump in and join daughter and coconut.

    As I drive the country lanes at the moment the rhododendrons are covered in buds. They will break bud in a couple of weeks. They are huge tree like shrubs and do very well in this area.

    Roses and Shakespeare, perfect.
    I am attempting to grow roses this year despite the rabbits. They are netted (roses not the rabbits) and I have grown flowers beneath them to hide the chicken wire. At this time, it is working well. I dream of having roses in my garden, I have the perfect soil for them. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

    Lovely post Rose and I am so glad that you enjoyed your trip.....

  2. Hi Rose, You've got wonderful pictures of wonderful Portland! I visited my daughter a few times when she was in college there and worked in quite a few garden visits. The public gardens there are an amazing resource.

  3. What a wonderful Mother's Day. Portland looks to be awesome. I had no idea it was known as the City of Roses but I sure do like those rhodies too. July will be here pretty fast.

  4. It’s nice to see the other Portland again. I visited this beautiful rose garden years ago and loved it. You’ve captured it so well in your photos. Yeah for Shakespeare Garden! Those rhodies are stunning. Mine haven’t opened yet. Happy Mother’s Day!

    Sorry to hear about the spoofy. How creepy!

  5. Wow, what a beautiful treat. I cannot even imagine so many roses in bloom LOL! Almost an overload of color. The Rhododendrons are just gorgeous. What a wonderful Mothers Day visit.

  6. I just love all those roses! They really do look beautiful.
    Everything you snapped was lovely.
    Maggie x

    Nuts in May

  7. Welcome home Rose. Of course you had to go to the Rose garden. tee hee... Shakespheare knows his gardening stuff. Those azaleas are amazing. The bench in the picture looks tiny with that magnificent backdrop. I have seen azaleas that big in the South. Never around here. Our winters are just too brutal.

  8. Rose, can you imagine those in rhododendrons in our gardens! Portland looks lovely and somewhat like Seattle-I couldn't get over how big the roses grew there.

    Daughter and Coconut look great-I'll bet they were both thrilled to get a good visit with you.

    You are a true blue garden blogger now. Home late yesterday and already a post up about your trip and the gardens. :) I am looking forward to coffee with you to hear all about it!

  9. I share your appreciation of William Shakespeare's way with words! :) I would love to see that test garden, even though I don't currently grow roses. I have before and I know I will again...slowly I'm inching back towards them.

    I can't believe those azalea trees! They seem like freaks of nature!

  10. Rose, your garden tour is spectacular! What a delightful way to spend Mother's Day. Thank you for sharing ... I might never get there :)

  11. One on one time with your daughter on Mother's Day sounds just about perfect to me, especially when it includes a visit to Rose Test Garden. What a cute little fluff ball Coconut is...adorable.

    The azaleas and rhododendrons growing on the hillside look so lush and huge that the park bench looks like dollhouse furniture.

    Nice to know that you're safely back at home. Oh, the spoofing thing..don't like the sound of that.


  12. What a great trip, even without a lot of roses in bloom. I heard someone on the radio last weekend say that they used to sell hundreds of hybrid tea roses, but now they sell none. People are buying shrub roses and other "low care" types instead. I guess it was good not to be tempted by actual hybrid tea roses in bloom.

    Those azaleas and rhodies are amazing, but yes, here in the midwest, they struggle mightily.

  13. Oh Rose what a great trip! The rose gardens are beautiful! And the rhododendrons are magnificent. You don't see them growing anywhere here. In Atlanta I had a couple but nowhere near those sizes.

    Glad you made it home safely.

  14. Cheryl, I did have a great trip, and Coconut seemed to be so happy to see me. Daughter will be back for a month-long visit this summer, so I'm curious to see if he and Sophie remember each other. Good luck with your roses!

    Cyndy, Portland is a beautiful city. I didn't get to see everything I wanted, but I guess that gives me an excuse to go back again:)

    Tina, It really didn't seem as if it had been nine months since I had seen Daughter. With cell phones, e-mail, and Skype, it's so much easier to stay in touch than it used to be. Portland has some beautiful gardens.

    Sarah, I only hope that one day I'll see this garden in bloom. Actually, I did see some of the blooms last August, but didn't have time to look closely. I'm hoping I have my "spoof" demon taken care of.

    HHG, I was hoping more of the roses would be in bloom by now, but it was rather cool in Portland. But the azaleas and rhodies made up for the lack of rose blooms.

    Maggie, Thanks; there were so many gorgeous blooms all around, I couldn't stop snapping pictures!

    Lisa, You would think I would be an expert rose gardener:) I'm afraid I'll have to be content admiring these azaleas from afar; not much chance I can get them to grow like this here.

    Beckie, I wish I had taken more pictures of the rosebushes themselves--you're right, some of them were huge! I had a great visit; looking forward to coffee with you.

    Rose, I've added a couple more Knockouts to my garden; the more carefree varieties are the only ones I'm brave enough to plant. I was in awe at the size of the azaleas!

    Joey, I asked Daughter if we could go to the coast just so I could dip my toe into the Pacific--I don't know if I'll ever see it again, either. Though I do hope to go back to Portland before Daughter moves again.

    Donna, Coconut is indeed a little fluff ball; I think I missed him almost as much as Daughter:)

    Carol, The only tea rose I ever had died within a year of my planting it. Now I stick to the easier to grow varieties, too. Don't you wish we could grow these azaleas?!

    Susie, I didn't know if rhododendrons and azaleas grew this large in the South. I had to ask the guide at the Chinese garden what the tree was, just because I couldn't believe a rhodie would ever get that big!

  15. I'm glad you got to spend Mother's Day with your daughter and Coconut. What a lovely place to visit. Both the rhododendrons and roses are beautiful.

  16. Gardeners on the north west coast have an unfair advantage over the rest of us. Wouldn't it be wonderful to garden in a mild climate with so much rain?

  17. Hello Rose,

    Oh, I have always wanted to visit Portland for the sole purpose of seeing their rose gardens. But, I have never been to Oregon....I have flown over it numerous times, but really need to land there someday :-)

  18. It looks like you had a really lovely trip. Portland is such a nice place. And of course, all the beautiful gardens help with that. I remember being surprised by all the rhodies there too!

  19. What a special place to visit. I would be drooling over those blossoms galore. I am happy for you! I visited Portland a few years back and got to see tulip farms and that was amazing to me.
    Coconut is such a fun name for a pet.

  20. Oh so lovely :) How fantastic to spend time with your daughter, and lovely Coconut! I hope you had a fantastic time.

    Beautiful roses, I love the peach one.


  21. What a lovely way to spend Mother's Day weekend, visiting with your daughter & viewing this spectacular Rose Garden. Mordin Sunrise is a pretty colorful little bloomer. :)

  22. The photographs of the Rose Garden are just wonderful. That Shakespeare Garden reminds me ... I know you're a reader and as a former English teacher, a Shakespeare aficionado. If you haven't read INTERRED WITH THEIR BONES by Jennifer Lee Carrell, I think you'd enjoy it.

    That Coconut is quite a cutie!

  23. Looks like a wonderful trip Rose! How fantastic you were able to spend Mother's Day with your daughter. Portland is such a pretty little city.

  24. Rose, I am astonished at the size of the azalea planting! Just goes to show us why they decline in the dry summers of the middle south! What a wonderful post filled with delightful photos~Coconut must have been excited to see you, but how did Sophie do with out her Rose? gail

  25. Dear Rose,
    Welcome home! I am trying to get ready to travel for a month and Portland is on my itenery! I also have a daughter who lives there.
    It is a gorgeous city. I have been in the spring and your photos tell the story the rhododendrons are huge. I am looking forward to seeing the roses in June.
    It is so fun to see the kids, they ar ethe best blooms!

  26. Beautiful post, Rose! I'm glad you got to spend Mother's Day with your daughter. It's better than any gift or card.

    I'm wondering if Shakespeare ever did any gardening himself. He certainly referenced plants and gardening styles so many times; it would make sense if he did.

  27. Wow, Portland looks wonderful. I really love the colors and size of the rhodies/azaleas out there. Also, can you believe it? I finally bought my first EVER rose--'Golden Wings.' We had a little *situation* trying to get it out of the pot (all my own fault!). I hope it survives!


Thanks for stopping by. I love to hear from you, so please leave a comment. I'll try to reply here, but I'll definitely return the visit.