International Rose Test Garden
Established in 1917, the oldest public rose test garden in the nation offers a dazzling display of Portland's favorite flower. About 8,000 roses representing 525 species grow in formal terraces overlooking downtown Portland and Mt. Hood. Since 1940 the Rose Gardens in Washington Park have been one of 24 official testing gardens for the All-American Rose Selections and one of five test gardens for miniature roses.The city's fondness for the genus Rosa dates back to 1887 and the founding of the Portland Rose Society, the oldest such group in the country. In 1907 rose-loving citizens began a campaign to nickname Portland the "City of Roses," which it has been called ever since. The Rose Festival, held every June, coincides with the flowers' peak blooming period and is one of the largest floral-themed extravaganzas in the country. Extending east, and covering two broad terraces, spreads the All-American Rose Test Garden. The roses tested here are given a code number rather than a name; four plants of each variety are evaluated for two years by an official judge using 13 different criteria, including bloom quality, how prolific they are, shape, color and vigor. The City of Portland annually awards the best-performing roses with a gold or silver medal. Winners are then given fanciful names such as Fragrant Cloud or Audrey Hepburn and moved to the Gold Award Garden, located on the terraces below the Beach Memorial Fountain, a walk-through stainless-steel sculpture named for Frank E. Beach, who spearheaded efforts to nickname Portland the "City of Roses.
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