Portland, Oregon’s Rose Garden

Everyone loves Roses. Hey, Niels, I have another Portland Rose Garden post!! (Niels is my Danish friend who runs Roses in Gardens – the link is in my “Blogroll” – and he may well be the single most knowledgeable person I know in the “Rose Love Business”.)

(click on all images to enlarge like crazy)

Let’s be clear, right off the bat. I was never that amenable to planting roses on my projects. Working as an installer, offering warranties on roses seemed suicidal, somehow, owing to their seemingly constant need for maintenance. Sure, I would plant some climbers on fences and posts, around gazebos and etcetera, but I always took more care with them than I probably should have. Unlike those nutty and stunningly hardy grapes, which seem to thrive in asphalt and the worst soils, roses always required extra amendments and all those things contractors under time constraints hate. I did find shrub roses, later, to be exceptionally hardy and I began a planting fest which continues to this day. If you notice in this little artificial mountain I planted for a couple in Reno, you can see what I mean. I used the deepest reds I could find, all of the Meidiland variety…………I found out these were extremely hardy and they needed little if any maintenance.

And, having said all that, there are few cooler plants. I visited the Rose Garden with my friend, Paul, yesterday and snapped about 100 pictures. He’s a landscaper with his own gig going and he had some time. We make this trip together about once a year and this year it was as wonderful as ever. I guess Portland is going to keep this garden around a while!  That, my friends, sure seems to be a good thing.

I don’t know any of the Rose’s names. I do that act of willful ignorance purposefully, too. Delving that deep would require a commitment of energy I just cannot afford – why? – because there must be a doggone million names is why! 😉  Honestly, I do know a few – ‘Double Delight’ has always just “sent me”, I readily admit. The ‘Peace Rose’ grabbed my fancy as a child, so it has historical staying power. The rest? Let’s just say I like to think I know “pretty” when I see it. And there was a lot of “Pretty” at the old Rose Garden. This, to me, is pretty:

As you can see, I am especially taken by those roses whose blooms come out one color, then change as they flower. I am utterly fascinated by that. The miniatures I feature either later in this post or in Part 2 are especially prone to that. I am also fascinated by all those sexy multiple colors they now produce – as mentioned, the ‘Double Delight’ has always been a favorite – and the many variations of reds, whites, oranges and yellows you find in these exotic flowers.

And the smells!  Oh my. Good Lord, that place should be against the law.

For a while, I thought it was me, actually. Imagine my disappointment when I discovered it was just the dang roses.

To be honest, we actually caught the garden in the downside of last week’s best possible display. It has cooled recently and we could tell the flowers we saw yesterday had just finished a remarkable breakout of blooming. Just the same, even with them at 90%, they tend to rock the senses.

I think the Rosecrucions were onto something. With more shovels, they might have amounted to something.

I am also a total sucker for the Lavender Roses. The problem with them seems to be getting the timing exactly right. Just the same, this one still looks good.

OK, for $100, how many blooms are there in this picture?

What the —-? Why is this Poppy in here? Pushy little bugger, eh?

Because there is more than just roses in this fabulous Garden. Here, for example, is the amphitheater, hard by the Garden, which is now featuring music nightly, throughout August. It’s frankly hard to imagine a nicer setting.

Incredibly, even huge people enjoy the garden. Face it, this is not the posture of someone whose Mom is making him behave – not that she ever could. Ex-football players have rights, too!!

Just as fortunately, they allow Mental Midgets to peruse the garden as if they were normal! The guy on the right here was delighted at the news!

The Portland Rose Garden offers far more than merely world-class roses in their prime. Always well-known and justifiably famous, the Rose Garden also benefits from features which would be their very own destinations, even without the gorgeous and World-Famous Roses.

It is, without doubt, a dramatic site. You get the sense of drama as you enter the place, with this peek at downtown on the descent into the garden itself.

Another view:

And then there are the immediate surroundings, which encompass the Rose Garden. Wow. The Weeping Beech Tree in this photo and the one following offers a dramatic sweep of cascading lines, almost waterfall-like, easily matching the impressive impact of those giant Douglas Firs around and forming the virtual walls of the garden itself. Protected by these behemoths, the garden gives an amazing serenity – cutting out noise and urban pollutions and allowing to focus on such small things as Roses.

But it is the statement made by the Beech which causes my wonder at the foresight of those who planted it where it is. See if you agree with me:

For my money, a “better” look:

And here, the sense of “Enclosure” which is so forceful and quieting:

Make no mistake, the quiet of this Garden is unrivaled in any other Garden outside of possible the Portland Japanese garden which is across the street. I am not sure this is not the most ideal setting for a garden of its type I have literally ever seen.

This little purple flower seems to agree:

Thanks for joining the Mental Midget on this painful exercise in flower-gawking.

Next? After yet another interminable post about this little garden, I promise I will feature dirt. I know so many of you are waiting with bated breath on more posts about dirt and gravel. Be patient. 😉

Urban and Modern Waterfalls – Ira’s Fountain, Portland, Oregon

(click any image to enlarge)

As a devoted fan of water in gardens and cities, I find very few things to match its otherwise totally absorbing effect on the mind and soul, set as they are in such urban concentrations. There are few more jarring effects on one while patrolling city streets to match running across a small park devoted solely to some water feature – as if someone insisted on reminding us of natural laws.

Here is a meek little look at the top of one such construction from downtown Portland, Oregon. (It would figure that Lawrence Halprin would have been integral in its making – I have seen few landscape architects since the days of Frederick Olmstead (link in this blog) who have done more electrifying work in changing the ambiance of busy downtown areas into something more compelling and interesting for plain old people just like us.) Anyway, here are my best friends, Steve and Jody Bare, enjoying the sounds and sensations from the top of this fascinating place.

I love the insertion of those Japanese Black Pines in their solo positions smack in the midst of all this water activity. They add yet more Nature, but with their own severe and gorgeous style. Here is another perspective of this small city park, set in the middle of town. The utter placidity mixes with the severity of concrete to provide a sort of soulful splendor no one would ever have imagined could be constructed from such simple and seemingly incongruous products like cement and water. For my money, this is true art.

It’s difficult to get a true perspective on the sheer scope and size of this great water feature. One camera won’t do it justice. But here is an interesting perspective on the sheer power of it all as an extremely handsome – if aging – hillbilly checks it out and I snap his picture from above:

From the top, up some stairs and over on the top side, the noise lessens some and a different and still-interesting perspective emrges as we get to know it better. It literally cries to be explored. So – hey – we sure did!



At the top:  (The top courtyard is continually bisected by feeder streams originating back up the way and fed in the geometric planes and rectangluar streams onto the falls themselves. Severe cuts into the courtyard, studded with these gorgeous individual Pines, make it simply breath-taking to be around. Now and then you get to a place you think is perfect. This is one of those.)

This is your people-friendly park. Note those kids and even my grown-up friends taking advantage of the water like mana from Heaven on this hot Summer morning.

Here’s a few random shots from this falls:

That’s about it.

Here’s a bonus I picked up from Youtube and the Portland people:

From the Portland City Parks Desk:
“Even before remodeling of the Civic Auditorium began in the early 1960s, plans to create an open space across the street were being proposed. The proposal submitted by Lawrence Halprin, the well-known San Franciscan architect who had designed the Lovejoy Fountain a few years earlier, was unanimously approved in 1968. Designed by Angela Danadjieva, the Forecourt Fountain was completed in 1970. 13,000 gallons of water per minute cascade through its terraces and platforms, suggesting the Northwest’s abundant waterfalls. The concrete fountain became an instant city landmark and an internationally acclaimed open space.

In 1978, the fountain was renamed after Ira C. Keller (1899-1978), civic leader and first chairman of the Portland Development Commission (1958-72). Keller pushed through the renewal plan for the South Auditorium area of downtown which included the construction of the Forecourt Fountain. It has been said that “it was Keller’s enormous energy that made urban renewal work in Portland.”

Yes, it IS that loud down below. 😉