Accessibility at Portland’s International Rose Test Garden

With over 10,000 roses on display, there’s a lot of ground to cover–4.5 acres to be exact–at Portland’s International Rose Test Garden (commonly referred to as Portland Rose Garden). Thanks to voters’ passage of the 2014 Parks Replacement Bond, enhanced ADA accessibility makes exploring this beautifully landscaped park easier for those of us with a mobility device.

Accessibility: What to expect

There’s improved ADA parking that directly accesses the garden. (We have always found parking near the tennis courts.) Graded sloping, new handrails, signage, and stairway removal along the main promenade near the Beach Memorial Fountain lead to award winning floral displays and fantastic views of downtown and Mount Hood. ADA designated amphitheater overlooks are also now available.

With such significant upgrades, I’m not quite sure why Portland Parks & Recreation doesn’t include an ADA accessibility symbol on the garden’s amenities icon listing. Sure, there’s a lot of the park that still needs attention in the accessibility arena; for starters, more graded sloping and improved pathway conditions to eliminate the remaining accessible barriers, especially stairs. But the already made major improvements ensure that key sections are readily manageable on a mobility device. The International Rose Test Garden is a must-do, can-do, accessible adventure when visiting the City of Roses.

Visionary stewardship

As with much of Portland the garden has a colorful history. In 1915 Jesse A. Currey, Oregon Journal editor and president of Portland’s Rose Society, envisioned Portland as the perfect safe haven for European hybrid roses from the bombings of World War 1. The Parks Bureau agreed, approving his preservation initiative in 1917 whilst cementing the city’s growing reputation for rose growing internationally. Flowers from England and Ireland began arriving the following year. The garden and amphitheater were officially dedicated in 1924.

Currey’s visionary stewardship over a century ago has since become the oldest official continuously operated public rose test garden in the United States. It now houses over 650+ varieties of roses. Specialty collections include: the Gold Medal Garden, the Royal Rosarian Garden, the Shakespeare Garden and the Miniature Rose Garden.

Directions and tidbits

Peak floral display months are May through September.

The garden is located in Washington Park,
400 SW Kingston Ave. Map

Open daily from 7:30 AM to 9 PM.

Free to the public.

Making Accessibility Happen

Every city wants your business. Let them know what you need, want and appreciate in order to make that business happen. 

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