“Of all flowers, methinks a rose is best.”
– William Shakespeare
Portland is home to the International Rose Test Garden, founded in 1917. It is the oldest, continuously operated, public rose test garden in the United States.
But Portland’s rose-y roots go back even further than 1917…way back to 1888 when one Georgiana Burton Pittock invited her friends/neighbors to display their roses in a tent set up in her garden. This inaugurated the annual rose show for the Portland Rose Society.
Years later, Jesse A. Currey, a former Rose Society president, convinced the city government to inaugurate a rose test garden in 1917. Back then, Portland had 20 miles of rose-bordered streets and was thus dubbed “City of Roses.” Having a rose test garden was an idea chance to enhance Portland’s image as the City of Roses.
At the onset, hybridists sent roses from around the world to Portland’s garden for testing and to keep the new hybrids safe from being destroyed by the bombing in Europe.
If you think about it, it’s really kind of amazing what Portland was able to do in 1917. The world was well into the first world war and there was no definite sign of peace to come.
I loved this place. There were roses of every color. Bright purples and lavenders.
Pale yellows that could almost pass for white.
Yellows that actually became whites as they bloomed.
Deep, sunny yellows.
Dark pinks bordering on orange blended with yellow.
The locals had seen it many times before. These people were just out enjoying the cool summer night, some with picnic baskets.
Wouldn’t that be a lovely place to spend an evening?
Do you think that a rose by any other name would still be a rose?