Portland has eight hundred nicknames, but one is the Rose City, and the International Rose Test Garden is a great place to see our nickname in action.
I don’t know exactly why we’re called the Rose City, but the internet knows everything, and Wikipedia says:
The official, and also most common, nickname for Portland is The City of Roses or Rose City. The first known reference to Portland as “The City of Roses” was made by visitors to an 1888 Episcopal Church convention. The nickname grew in popularity after the 1905 Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition where Mayor Harry Lane suggested that the city needed a “festival of roses.” The first Portland Rose Festival was held two years later and remains the city’s major annual festival a century later. There are many other cities and towns known as Rose City or The City of Roses.
The nickname is often attributed to Leo Samuel, who founded the Oregon Life Insurance Company in 1906 (known today as Standard Insurance Company). Samuel, who moved to Portland in 1871, grew roses outside his home. He placed a pair of shears outside his garden so people could snip a rose from his garden to take for themselves. This encouraged other people and businesses to plant their own roses outside their homes and business. Today, roses are still planted outside the Standard Insurance Company’s home office building in downtown Portland.
So, kind of a boring story.
But, roses also grow really well here. So well, in fact, that there’s an International Test Garden. And if you come between April and October, it’s a must see.
Really. They make hybrids and test them out in this garden, and the result is colorful and vibrant and … somehow poetic.
Here are some pictures that I took:
It’s lovely all summer long. We just had the Rose festival, so now’s a good time. But you’ll see, this album was taken last August, so they’re lovely for a long time.
International Rose Test Garden
850 SW Rose Garden Way, Portland, OR 97205