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By: BriarCraft , 1:01 AM GMT on August 07, 2012
Portland, Oregon, is not the only city to claim the title of The Rose City, but residents do take their roses seriously. In early June, they celebrate roses during the Rose Festival. It is common to see bush or old fashioned roses lining the freeways in central Portland. With the mild climate, roses blossom from June to November. During some winters, when there is no killing freeze, a few hardy roses can be seen blossoming in mid-winter.
The biggest claim to fame for Portland's rose enthusiast is the International Rose Test Garden located in Washington Park. While the number and variety varies from year to year, currently, the 4.5 acre garden contains 9,525 roses in 610 varieties.
Portland’s identity with roses began in 1888. Georgiana Burton Pittock, wife of pioneer publisher Henry Pittock, invited her friends and neighbors to exhibit their roses in a tent set up in her garden. Thus began the annual rose show for the Portland Rose Society. Jesse A. Currey, a former Rose Society president, chose the site and convinced City officials to inaugurate a rose test garden in 1917 with the support of the American Rose Society and civic–minded citizens. At that time, Portland had 22 miles of rose-bordered streets -– a strategy to draw attention to the 1905 Lewis and Clark Centennial celebration. As a result, Portland was dubbed the "City of Roses".
The International Rose Test Garden at Washington Park is the oldest official continuously-operated public rose test garden in the United States. In 2006, the Garden of Excellence Award was presented to Portland Parks & Recreation by the World Federation of Rose Societies. This is currently one of 20 rose gardens in the world that has achieved this distinction.
The display consists of modern hybrid tea, grandiflora, miniatures, and landscape roses with a smaller collection of old garden shrub roses. Continuous deadheading (removal of old blooms) by volunteers keeps the roses blooming into the fall. The majority of roses in the garden are commercially available. About 10-20 varieties are replaced each year with some of the best new roses released on the market. Most of the roses removed are given to local rose societies for pruning demonstrations.
Each year, the Portland Rose Society awards honors for Portland's Best Roses including the people's choice for best fragrance. The Portland Rose Society's website also contains valuable information about the care and feeding of roses.
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Updated: 6:42 PM PST on December 19, 2014