Bring on the May Flowers: Exploring Portland’s Blooms


The saying goes, ‘April showers bring May flowers,’ and despite the fact that Portland had a record warm April, the flowers they are a bloomin’! May is a perfect month to explore the gardens around the city and take in breathtaking blooms and vibrant colors of our lush landscape. My request for Mothers Day this year is to enjoy a day of flower bouquets in their natural setting rather than on my dining room table. I’ve rounded up a few gardens to take in fragrant blossoms and meander through the beauty.

Crystal Springs Garden by Karl W Kaiser

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden

In addition to their annual Mother’s Day Show and sale on May 7 and 8, Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden is full of its name sake as the flowers are most vibrant this time of year. Garden paths lead to a variety of blooms, landscaped waterfalls and a duck pond. The garden is open from dawn to dusk with an admission fee of $4 between 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. No entrance fee on Monday or Tuesday, and children under the age of 12 are free.

Leach Botanical Gardens

Take a short drive twenty minutes south of downtown where Leach Botanical Gardens await. With more than a mile of trails and paths, keep your eyes open for hummingbirds, dragonflies and squirrels. Leach Botanical Garden has a rich history and remains not only a serene setting, but a resource for novice and green thumb gardeners alike. The garden is open Tuesday – Saturday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., and Sunday from 1 – 4 p.m. There is no admission fee, but contributions are welcome. Guided tours are offered on Saturdays at 11 a.m.

The Grotto

My personal favorite is The Grotto in Northeast Portland. There are two levels of gardens, a meditation chapel, and a labyrinth on 62 acres. Spy rhododendron, azalea, and begonia, as you stroll the peaceful grounds. On a clear day you can see Mt. St. Helens, and you’ll feel a million miles away from the city. While The Grotto is a National Catholic Shrine, it offers solitude and tranquility to all faiths and all people. The Lower Garden and Visitors Center are free to visit, however there is a fee for the Upper Level Garden;  $5 adult, $4 military and senior, $3 youth (6-12) 6 and under are free. Grounds are open daily at 9 a.m. throughout the year.

Peninsula Park Rose Garden

Not as famous at the International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park, the city’s first public rose garden is actually Peninsula Park Rose Garden in North Portland. The fountain serves as a centerpiece for the surrounding acreage of over 5700 roses in a sunken garden setting. As a public garden it is open 5 a.m. – midnight and there is no entrance fee. Bring a blanket, picnic lunch and explore the garden and neighboring gazebo. If the weather is right, there is a water feature for the kids near the playground.

This is a magnificent time of year to get outside and delight in the flora that spring to life as our grey winter days disappear. This Mother’s Day or any time, treat yourself to the beauty of nature’s flower bouquets, and bask in the fact that you don’t have to scour the house looking for a vase!

What’s your favorite Portland garden for beautiful spring flowers?