Saturday, May 26, 2007

City of Roses

I think Portland is pretty well-known as the "City of Roses". We have found that title a bit ironic since it has been harder for us to grow roses here than in other places we have lived. Because of the rain and damp, roses here are very vulnerable to black spot disease. Also, in our neighborhood with so many big trees, the big florabunda roses don't seem to prosper because they don't get enough sun. Still, it is the city of roses and so we persist. Mitzi, the designer who helped us redo our yard, said the secret is in knowing what kind of roses to plant. Ray cut the bouquet above from our yard this week. I don't think the roses have ever been as good as this year.

Yesterday when I went out to the car I noticed the wild roses blooming in the jungley no-man's-land across our lane. They formed this beautiful cascade just across from our garage.

If you come to Portland one of the best things to see is the International Rose Test Garden at Washington Park.

(By the way, this is not my photo. I snagged it from the gardens of merit web site.)

If you are here in June you can take in the Portland Rose Festival. Lots of activities and parades. The Grand Floral Parade is like the Pasadena Rose Parade. All the floats are made from flowers. We have never gone. I'm just not much into parades and this is one where people camp on the street overnight for a good viewing spot. I can't deal with that.

The Rose Festival is laden with tradition and pomp and is a big deal for many Portlanders. We didn't grow up with it, so it all seems a bit overblown and past its prime to me. Especially the "Queen of Rosaria" competition. Each High School chooses a Rose Princess, then there is a big pageant to choose the queen. The year we moved to Portland Emily was a Jr. in High School. She was into wearing black and big Doc Martens and hated the High School she landed at. One day she came home and said, in a voice dripping with disdain, "Today we had a big assembly and chose our school's Rose Princess." Then she stuck her finger in her mouth in a gagging gesture and went "Gack, gack!" I was quite amused and always think of that when I start seeing the pictures of the Rose Princesses show up in the newspaper each spring.


  1. I love roses! I've planted about 25 here, which is quite restrained for me.

  2. Anonymous11:54 AM

    Your roses are beautiful! So, tell me, what kind of roses did Mitzi tell you to plant? My roses are blooming profusely but the blooms are raggedy and pathetic and I've got rampaging black spot. How much is the right roses for the area and how much is Ray's magic touch?

  3. Mitzi said the more petals a rose bloom has, the more sun it requires. She recommends old-fashioned roses for shadier yards. Even so, they do get aphids and a little black spot from time to time. Ray keeps things pretty well under control. But in general the new "old" roses seem healthier and produce more blooms than the other bushes did.

  4. Anonymous2:07 PM

    We tried roses 10 years ago until the Japanese beetles and black spot finally defeated us and we pulled them up a few years ago. Hope must spring eternal, because Don created another bed of roses this year. Yours are exquisite.

    And, Honey, you don't KNOW pageants till you've lived in the South--and the farther south you go, the worse it gets. Lee Ann graduated from Auburn, which is in LA (Lower Alabama), and they had a queen of something different EVERY week. They're known for their friendliness so they even have "Hey Day" (where everybody says "Hey!" to each other), and there was even a Miss Hey Day!! In the 90's it was a benign throwback to the 50's (I called it Mayberry) and believe me, it was just the place I wanted my kid to go away from home for the first time. (When we visited the campus I told Lee Ann I liked it because the kids wore "outfits!")

  5. As a child growing up in Portland we were told that the purpose of the rose test garden in Washington Park was because of the problems with black spot, fungus, mold, etc. If the new roses would flourish in Portland they would probably grow well in similar damp, cloudy climates. In the 40s and 50s the Rose Parade was a great event - but then there were no other diversions, such as TV, video games, computers, etc.! Every little girl dreamed of growing up to be a Rose Princess or (gasp) Rose Queen.

  6. Love your roses -- I love roses in general but I have managed to kill the one bush that was outside my condo. For some reason my association fees didn't cover taking care of that one plant (the bushes they will trim within an inch of their lives but one little rose bush? Nooooooooo). I've been leaving it alone -- which seems not to have been the thing to do. Hmmnn, maybe I should have pruned...

  7. I simply must explore more gardening. So many people seem to get so much joy out of it. (I'm with you on the pageants.)

  8. LOVE your roses, may I use the photo of the vase as inspiration for a painting? I agree about the festivals, we have an annual rose festival at Addo, which i am told is stunning, but i have never been able to bring myself to deal with all those crowds....maybe this year?