A Golden Afternoon at the Portland Rose Garden

I expected to find three things on my first visit to Portland, Oregon: beards, flannel and really great food. But that’s because I didn’t know that Portland’s nickname is Rose City – and they take that reputation seriously. The entire city is planted with rose bushes, even along the highway exit ramps. But nowhere was Portland more gorgeous than at the International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park, which has nearly 10,000 rose plants. I was there in June, in peak rose season, and I could smell the gardens before I saw them. If you love Alice in Wonderland the way I do, you won’t need to stretch your imagination to feel like you’re very small in a very large flower garden (and maybe the flowers are all singing “Golden Afternoon,” too). If you visit, try to go in early summer when the roses are in full bloom, and plan a few hours to explore. Maybe pack a lunch and a book, too. Once you’re there, you won’t want to leave.

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