International Rose Test Garden, Portland, Oregon

By staff writer Valeka Cruz. Photos Copyright © Valeka Cruz.

I HAD HEARD from friends and family that the International Rose Test Garden was a beautiful place that I should visit during my recent trip to Portland, Oregon. The word beautiful doesn’t even begin to describe this haven. From the moment I set foot in the garden, I felt like I was Alice and that I had found Wonderland.

Portland Rose Garden | Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland

Located in Washington Park, the garden is a rose lover’s paradise! In fact, there are over 7,000 rose plants on display. The varieties here are tested for fragrance, color and drought resistance. How lovely to be a gardener there and be surrounded by such beauty on a daily basis.


Top: Barbara Streisand | Ketchup & Mustard Floribunda
Bottom: Over The Moon Hybrid Tea Rose | Betty Boop

There are several different features in the 4.5 acre garden, including a stainless-steel sculpture, reflection pool, an amphitheater, gazebo and more.

The Frank L. Beach Memorial, Portland Rose Test Gardens

The Frank L. Beach Memorial – stainless steel sculpture and reflection pool

The Queen’s Walk is a brick sidewalk flanked with various miniature rose bushes. Bronze plaques feature the names of all the rose festival queens from 1907 to the present.

The Queen's Walk, Portland Rose Test Gardens

The Queen’s Walk

The Shakespeare Garden is a very shady section with a raised seating area and a walkway that winds throughout the gardens. At one time, the Shakespeare Garden contained plants and botanicals that were referenced in Shakespeare’s works. According to the tour guide that was with a group ahead of mine, these were replaced with more shade-appropriate plants.

Foliage inside the Shakespeare Garden, Portland Rose Test Garden

Foliage inside the Shakespeare Garden

The Royal Rosarian Garden was established in 1924 as a tribute to those who serve in the various Rose Festival events. This particular garden includes many varieties that are rare and no longer available commercially.

Royal Rosarian Garden | Portland Rose Test Garden

Royal Rosarian Garden

I was lucky enough to take in a live concert while I was visiting the garden. The lush green amphitheater has terraced seating so there is not a bad view of the stage in the center. It was the perfect ending to a relaxing day filled with beauty.

Open air music | Portland Rose Test Garden

Open air music in the garden

By the end of my tour of the garden, the Rose Garden Store was closed so no souvenir! Oh, well. I guess that means I’ll need to find time for another trip to Wonderland in the near future.

Valeka Cruz

Valeka & Karlee


Valeka Cruz (@runningonheavy) is a freelance writer and blogger living happily in Austin Texas with her three fur babies. Her weekly blog, Running On Heavy, provides health and wellness motivation along with life lessons. She loves chocolate, hiking, laughing, hot tea and, especially, writing (not necessarily in that order, depending on what kind of a day it is). Read more of her stories on Milliver’s Travels by visiting Valeka’s story index.



  1. Valeka,
    My favorite flower is the rose, so I knew I would really love this place and your article before I even started reading. I was right. Your photos are wonderful, I especially like the colors of the Ketchup & Mustard Floribunda, but What I really love about rose’s are their smell, So I am betting that the tea rose would be a good one for that.?
    Thank you for my virtual stroll through this beautiful rose garden.

    • Hi, Betsy!

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the post and the photos! There were so many beautiful roses everywhere I looked.

      The “Over The Moon” tea rose hybrid was one of the most pleasantly fragrant ones. Such a delicate scent!

      I do plan on returning in the spring to take in even more of the loveliness!

  2. I love touring gardens and I have been waiting to visit this garden for quite some time. I will make sure I get there next spring or summer. When was your visit? The garden looks good.

    • Hi, Jeannine!

      This garden is certainly worth visiting! Across the street from it is a Japanese garden which, unfortunately, I didn’t get the opportunity to visit.

      My visit to the garden was the first week of October! The mild weather has really helped the roses maintain their beauty.

  3. I love ALL flowers, and this garden seems like such a special place to visit! I would love to be a gardener there, that’s for sure 🙂

    Thank you for sharing such beauty, Valeka, love everything about this article!

  4. I’m with Betsy, I adore fragrant roses, and this garden looks, and no doubt smelt, absolutely magical.

    Thank you for sharing Valeka

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