Peninsula Park

Park Champions Exemplify the Power of People and Parks

Above: Park Champion Award presented to Yvonne Boisvert for amazing efforts at Peninsula Park Rose Garden, from PPF Board Member, Jules Bailey. Below: Linda Robinson receives Park Champion Award for tireless work on behalf of parks in East Portland.

Above: Park Champion Award presented to Yvonne Boisvert for amazing efforts at Peninsula Park Rose Garden, from PPF Board Member, Jules Bailey. Below: Linda Robinson receives Park Champion Award for tireless work on behalf of parks in East Portland.

We are thrilled to announce the Portland Parks Foundation Parks Champion Award winners. Their inspiring work exemplifies the power of people and parks to benefit Portland and our region. On September 24, as part of our 15th Anniversary celebration, we honored Yvonne Boisvert and Linda Robinson as our Parks Champions. Along with the award, a cash contribution of $1,500 was given to the parks-based community of their choice. The Parks Champion Award is an honor presented by Portland Parks Foundation to recognize an individual who has provided outstanding service to a park, community center, natural area, or community garden.

Did you know that the first public rose garden is actually in North Portland? Park Champion Yvonne Boisvert was a founding member of the Friends of Peninsula Park Rose Garden. One of Portland’s best kept secrets, the Peninsula Park Rose Garden is over 100 years old. Yvonne has worked tirelessly to preserve, enhance, teach about, and advocate for the garden over the years. She and her Friends co-founders worked with Portland Parks and Recreation to replant the entire garden - over 4,000 roses for the centennial celebration in 2013. She helped design new signage for the garden, and can often be seen there giving tours and teaching free rose classes. In 2015, she founded the Art in the Rose Garden summer art show and sale. This year’s event drew over 3,000 to the garden.

On the other side of town in East Portland, Linda Robinson has spent decades as a tireless for parks across East Portland -- including Ventura Park, Gates Park, and Gateway Discovery Park. She also founded and leads the East Portland Parks Coalition to support current and future parks, open spaces, and green spaces projects in East Portland. One of Linda’s significant current projects is Gateway Green. Over the past decade, Linda has been spearheading the ambitious public-private project to develop the former site of Rocky Butte Jail into Gateway Green, a dynamic open space and recreational park for the region.

Congratulations to our winners Yvonne and Linda, and to our communities benefitting from their incredible contributions.

Discover Portland's First Rose Garden

Contributed by Yvonne Boisvert

It’s surprising in this great city of park lovers that many residents have not yet discovered Peninsula Park Rose Garden. Once they do, however, they immediately fall in love with what is often described as a hidden gem. Nestled in the heart of historic Piedmont neighborhood, this formal French garden has delighted visitors for more than 100 years.

Level grassy paths and wide brick walkways were key to making Portland’s first public rose garden a strolling pleasure when the site opened in 1913. And ever since, Garden visitors have enjoyed a profusion of blooms from more than 5,000 roses during a season that typically runs from late May through October. A lovely central fountain, graceful lantern posts and an octagonal bandstand – a Portland Historic Landmark – complete the setting.

Friends of the Garden, formed in 2012, have spent the past three years building a dedicated volunteer crew, increasing awareness of this historic treasure and highlighting the need to preserve it for future generations. The Friends also devote significant effort to supporting the surrounding neighborhoods, sponsoring community events and collaborating with local organizations on a variety of causes.

Tending the roses during bloom season is one of our most important tasks. In 2015, for example, our volunteers contributed nearly 2,000 hours to keeping the Garden in peak condition. In addition, the Friends and our volunteers host a number of interesting community activities, including free rose classes, our newly launched winter speaker series, Art in the Rose Garden and Garden tours, as well as support for North Portland Sunday Parkways, Portland Festival Symphony and Parke Diem.

If you are looking for a way to brighten the grey days of winter, please join us on January 22, 2016 at 10 a.m., when noted author Donald Olson will discuss his latest book, The Pacific Northwest Garden Tour. Mr. Olson will speak at the June Key Delta Community Center, 5940 N Albina Avenue, across from the Rose Garden’s main entrance on N Ainsworth Street and N Albina Avenue. This event is free and open to the public, but reservations are required. To register, visit or email

We’ll also have opportunities for you to get hands-on experience when we hold our winter climbing roses class, spring pruning and replanting days that usually take place in late January through early March. If you prefer warmer weather, you are welcome to lend support during bloom season and for any of the popular events the Friends sponsor throughout the season. To keep updated, visit our website, or follow us on Facebook,

Making Space for Parks

Building cranes raise up to the grey clouds as Portland’s population continues to climb.  According to the Portland State University Population Research Center, Portland added nearly 12,000 residents in 2015.  Projections show population continuing an upward trend and housing is already becoming an issue.  Another issue that rises with increased population is accessible public park space for new residents and their families.

This is just one of the thoughts that came to mind when listening to a talk given by William J. Hawkins III last month at the Friends of Peninsula Park annual meeting.  Mr. Hawkins talked about his recent book, The Legacy of the Olmsted Brothers in Portland, giving a history of how Olmstead’s visit and vision turned Portland into a city of parks. 

Portland in the late 1800s was booming even more than Portland today. Leaders of the city came together to set up a city system for the increasing population. In 1903, John Olmstead, son of Frederick Law Olmsted whose accolades include New York’s Central Park, came to Portland on a whirlwind trip to establish a vision for Portland’s park system. 

While the original design for Portland’s park system included connecting parks along park boulevards like the Terwilliger Parkway in southwest Portland; the vision wasn’t fully realized.  However, what was created remains a park landscape that rivals the best in the nation and has swelled to meet the ever expanding footprint of our city.

During this current building boom, it is important to remember the importance of parks in Portland’s landscape to maintain the character and livability of our city.  As Mr. Olmstead wrote in his plan for Portland, “All agree that parks not only add to the beauty of a city and to the pleasure of living in it, but are exceedingly important factors in developing the healthfulness, morality, intelligence, and business prosperity of its residents.”

The Foundation remains a great advocate to maintaining that vision for Portland’s parks in the face of multiple demands on public funding and spaces and we encourage others to protect park spaces with us.  Looking out at the crowd of Peninsula Park friends it was easy to see we already have great group of park supporters leading the way.

More Information:
Check out our calendar to attend public meetings about park developments in your neighborhood.
Watch the recent PBS Documentary on Frederick Law Olmstead and his work across America:
Follow this bike trip of the original Olmstead boulevards: