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,