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With a multitude of scenic landscapes and serene gardens, we Portlanders have a lot of green escapes from the bustling city. In fact, beautiful botanical gardens abound here!
Not only are these gardens nice places to relax, but they’re also a place of wonder and discovery. Let’s go over the best ones so you know where to go and what to see!
1. Leach Botanical Garden
|6704 SE 122nd Ave, Portland, OR
|Wednesday – Sunday: 10 AM – 4 PM
Monday & Tuesday: Closed
|Adults and Youth: $5
Children under 6: Free
Garden for all: Free
Originally part of botanist Lilla Leach’s home, this 16-acre space was formerly a private space known as Sleepy Hollow. Thankfully for us, it was opened to the public in 1983.
The Leach Botanical Garden can be divided into two parts: the upper garden and the hillside and lower garden.
- The upper garden consists of the entry plaza, basalt stone sculptural installation, four-season pollinator garden, and aerial tree walk. We found the areas perfect for taking photographs and walking.
- The hillside and lower garden has native plants, wooded trails, plant collections, and pathways along Johnson Creek. We found this area perfect for discovery and exploration because this is where you really see what this botanical garden has to offer.
There are 2,000 species of plants at this Garden. This includes Garry oak savanna, fen, medicinal herbs, aquatic plants and so much more.
They also have exotic collections that include several plants from Asia and the Mediterranean!
There are a lot of things to see, so be ready to walk around for several hours. While the area is quite spacious, there are a lot of narrow pathways, so they recommend traveling in small groups.
To navigate the area, there are a lot of different tours you can sign up for, all of which are self-guided, such as the Botanical Scavenger Hunt, John and Lilla Treasure Hunt, and Garden Tour.
We recommend the Botanical Scavenger Hunt and the Garden Tour if you want to walk around to find specific plants and learn more about them.
As for the John and Lilla Treasure Hunt, this is perfect for history fans because you will get to learn about the botanist who lived there. You will be asked to spot several objects like a black metal owl and a curving stone bench.
- Wear comfortable shoes as you will be walking around.
- Some areas are not wheelchair accessible.
- Small cameras and smartphones are the only things allowed for free photography. Other kinds of cameras would require you to pay a fee.
- Picnics are not allowed.
2. Hoyt Arboretum
|148 SW Fischer Ln, Portland, OR
|Monday – Sunday: 5 AM – 10 PM
Hoyt Arboretum is a botanical garden, nature education hub, tree museum, and conservation lab all rolled into one.
At the Hoyt Arboretum, people are encouraged to learn more about the natural wonders of the world with its youth and adult educational programs and guided tours.
- Under the youth education program, there are available field trips, summer learning, and educational walks for the curious, young minds.
- Whereas in the adult education program, people have the choice to join tai chi workshops, hikes, and forest bathing sessions. You can also go on a more educational route by learning how to identify different trees and plants and by joining hands-on artistic classes.
- There are also guided tours that include public tours, group tours, and curator tours.
Across 12 miles of trails, you will be welcomed by more than 2,300 tree species from all over the globe. Among those, 67 of them are endangered or rare.
As of now there are 6,000 trees and 170 families in the area. A few of plants and trees that you will be able to discover here are European silver fir, Forked hart’s tongue fern, Christmas rose, and Sweet cicely.
Their collections of conifers, magnolias and maples are even nationally acknowledged, so be sure to check them out!
- Dogs are allowed as long as they stay on the leash.
- There’s no luggage storage in the area, so be sure to pack light!
- Wear something comfortable.
3. Lan Su Chinese Garden
|239 NW Everett St, Portland, OR
|Monday – Sunday 10 AM – 4 PM
|Members – Free
Adult (19-61 y.o.) – $14
Senior (62+) and Student (18+ with I.D.) – $13
Youth (6-18) – $11
Child (5 and under) – Free
From the Chinese words that mean Orchid and Arise, Lan Su Chinese Garden’s name can be translated to The Garden of Awakening Orchids. The poetic nature of its name rightfully reflects its beauty.
The garden came to be when Portland and Suzhou, a city in China, decided to work together. This garden was created by Chinese artisans so you can trust that it has an authentic feel despite being situated outside China.
A lot of the plants that you will be able to spot here are native to China. However, we have to admit that most of the people in our team who aren’t plant moms or dads couldn’t always tell which plants were foreign or native.
Anyway, there are fifty specimen trees in this botanical garden as well as strange perennials and shrubs. There are also several Bamboo, Camellia, Magnolia, and Peony plants.
We recommend not leaving without passing by their tea house. They serve different types of teas such as oolong, green, white, black, and herbal teas.
The tea choices depend on the season, so it’s best to check it on site ahead of time if you’re picky. They also have snacks that complement the tea such as mooncakes, dried fruit, and cookies. Additionally, they have light meals such as dumplings, noodles, and buns.
- Download the Lan Su Chinese Garden app for audio tours, scavenger hunts, and plant information.
- The garden is accessible by wheelchair.
Pets are not allowed in the vicinity, so you may need to leave Fluffy with a sitter (try the ones we reviewed before!).
4. Min Zidell Healing Garden
|SW Woods St, Portland, OR
|Monday – Friday: 8 AM – 6 PM
Saturday and Sunday: Closed
Min Zidell Healing Garden is located in the National College of Natural Medicine. The 12,000 sq.ft. space is a home to a lot of medicinal plants, as such, and is heaven if you’re interested in herbology.
This garden is also well-known because of the bronze sculpture of Sun Simiao, a Chinese medicine physician from the 6th century. As you can see, there’s a definite theme here!
There’s also a labyrinth here for meditative walking and a tea house. We find that this is a perfect resting spot. In fact you’ll see a few people doing either throughout the day, and students and visitors are both welcome.
- Bring a book, a sketchbook, or a notebook with you. Being surrounded with such peace and beauty, you might want to read, journal, and draw.
5. Portland Japanese Garden
|611 SW Kingston Ave, Portland, OR
|Monday, Friday – Sunday: 10 AM – 3:30 PM
Tuesday & Wednesday: Closed
Thursday: 12 – 3:30 PM
Senior (65+): $16.95
Student (with ID): $15.95
Youth (6-17): $13.95
Child (5 and under): Free
A former Japanese ambassador once said this garden is the most beautiful and authentic Japanese garden outside Japan – and rightfully so.
It has a tranquil and classic beauty that has stood the test of time. Even though it was designed way back in 1963, people can still appreciate its charm today.
Included in the 12-acre space this garden has to offer are serene walkways, eight separate garden styles, and a wonderful view of Mt. Hood.
We’ve broken down the eight gardens below:
- Included in The Strolling Pond Garden are the upper and lower Ponds. At the upper ponds, you will be able to see the notable moon bridge. While at the lower pond, there’s a zigzag bridge along beds of Japanese Iris.
- The Tea Garden has a stone path that takes you to the tea house. It’s simpler compared to the other gardens, which makes you feel like you’re one with nature while you’re sipping your tea.
- The Sand and Stone Garden is made out of raked sand and gravel. Dry landscape gardens are usually called Zen gardens, but the right term is actually “karesansui.”
- Similar to the Sand and Stone Garden, the Flat Garden, as you can guess from the name, is meant to be a flat surface but with stones and shrubbery. There are also trees in the garden to create depth.
- Compared to other gardens here, the Natural Garden is the most modern-looking one. It mostly consists of deciduous plants which are meant to symbolize seasonal change.
- The Entry Garden welcomes the visitors of Portland Japanese Garden with a stoned pathway. There are a few Northwest Native plants in the area such as bleeding heart, wood strawberry, and false Solomon seal.
- While small, Tsubo-Niwa consists of everything that makes a Japanese garden which are plants, water, and stone. It’s not meant to be the focus of the scenery. On the contrary, it’s just meant to complement the Cultural Village.
- The exciting thing about Ellie M. Hill Bonsai is that you can find different bonsai styles and species on every visit. They change it every now and then to showcase local bonsai practitioners’ work.
Whether you’re going here to learn more about plants and Japanese gardens or you just yearn for peace to ease the mind, this garden might just be what you need for a nice break.
- Allot a few hours when you visit because there are a lot of areas to explore.
6. Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden
|5801 SE 28th Ave, Portland, OR
|Sunday – Tuesday, Thursday – Saturday: 10 AM – 3:30 PM
Wednesday: 1 PM – 3:30 PM
|Adults & Youth: $5
Children 10 & younger: FREE (with a responsible adult)
Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden is where you go if you want to spot rare species, little-known shrubs, hybrid rhododendrons, and unusual trees.
It’s a nine-acre garden with marvelous views of the bridges and the Crystal Springs Lake. Go during spring or summer, because that’s when the shrubs, perennials, and trees are abundant and full of life.
If you want to see waterfowl in particular, try to go during spring. There are also sightings of wildlife such as mallards, ruby crowned kinglets, shovelers, northern flickers, and widgeons.
In fact, there are as many as 90 bird species that can be seen in the area! You might also be able to spot several wildlife like coyotes, otters, and muskrats.
- If you’re going here on a bike, there’s a bike rack on-site.
- The Azaleas and Rhododendrons fully bloom from April to June, so during this time, the garden is surrounded with a variety of colors. We particularly love passing by during that time of year for this exact reason.
7. Duniway Park Lilac Garden
|SW 6th Ave & SW Sheridan St, Portland, OR
|Monday – Sunday 5 AM – 12 AM
As the name states, the Lilac Garden in Duniway park is a home to over 100 different types of lilacs. When they’re in bloom, the fir and cedar around the area compliment them and make for an absolutely Instagrammable background.
Other than lilacs, there are 225 plants with over 125 varieties. They are mostly Syringa vulgaris hybrids, which is a flowering plant that blooms from late March to early May.
In June, there’s also a large Japanese Lilac Tree that blooms spectacularly. This is one of the popular sightings in the area and certainly one not to be missed. If you’re in Portland in June, you can consider yourself lucky!
Aside from people exploring the garden on their own, there are also the occasional field trips and work parties in the area. We found that this is a perfect place to do some inspired learning.
8. Portland Memory Garden
|10401 SE Bush St, Portland, OR
|Monday – Sunday 8 AM – 9 PM
While Portland Memory Garden is open to all visitors, it was made specifically for those suffering from memory disorders like Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, before you even enter the garden, you will already notice several things that make this place friendly for those with memory disorders.
An example for this would be the entrance. It’s designed with recognizable features that would help people navigate where to enter and exit.
Additionally, there’s a fence that’s not only there for aesthetic purposes. It helps people with memory disorders avoid straying far away from the area.
The plants that they included in the garden aid those with reduced sensory abilities that often come with dementia. Furthermore, they’ve also added several elements that help restore good memories including flowers in raised beds and four seasons of plants.
The garden is also a symbolism of what people can build if they stand as a community. This is because different organizations and neighborhood associations teamed up in order to build this garden.
Included in the list of organizations that helped create this are The Center of Design for an Aging Society, Portland Bureau of Parks and Recreation, The ASLA, and more.
- Try dropping by during Summer because there are free horticultural therapy sessions you can join.
9. The Grotto – National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother
|8840 NE Skidmore St, Portland, OR
|Monday – Sunday 9 AM – 5 PM
|Lower level: Free
– Adult: $9.95
– Senior (65+): $8.95
– Youth (6-11): $4.95
As you might have already guessed, The Grotto is not just a garden. It’s also a Catholic sanctuary. That said, you don’t have to be religious to be able to enjoy and appreciate The Grotto.
This 62-acre space also houses hundreds of statues, scenic views, and religious shrines. Because The Grotto is a peaceful place, you can drop by either to meditate, pray, walk, and reflect.
It’s safe to say that there’s also ample space for exploration and discovery.
Their gardens can be divided into two categories: the lower level and the upper level.
- The admission to the lower level is free. This is where The Chapel of Mary, The Grotto, and Stations of the Cross are.
- At the upper level, you will see shrines, the rose garden, the peace garden, St. Anne’s chapel, statues, and more.
As for the plants and flowers in this garden, there are so many of them that you can see blooms all year round, making it a suitable place to go no matter what season it is.
- During winter months, you can expect to see Kinnickinnic, Camellia flower, Hellebore flower, Mahonia, and the like.
- Meanwhile, during spring, the Vinca minor, Scilla plants, and Weeping Japanese maples make the garden colorful.
- As for the summer season, you’ll be able to feast your eyes on flowers like Daylilies, Roses, Daisies, and more.
- When it comes to fall, gorgeous Maple trees, Pyracantha flowers, and Mountain ash trees take the center stage.
- All areas in The Grotto are accessible by wheelchair.
- It might be best to allot an hour or two when visiting.
10. Elk Rock Garden
|11800 S Military Ln, Portland, OR
|Monday – Friday: 8 AM – 5 PM
Saturday and Sunday: Closed
It might be hard to figure out where Elk Rock Garden is located because it’s in the middle of a private neighborhood. However, it’s worth going here: it even has a more tranquil atmosphere than many other gardens because it’s away from the noise of the city.
As you walk around this 13-acre garden, you will notice the natural quality of the maintenance and landscaping. It’s not too manicured, so it looks a bit wilder than some of the other gardens on this list.
In the garden, you might be able to spot magnolia flowers, cyclamen flowers, sacred anise, and more.
- If you’re in a group of 10 or more, you have to give them advance notice before you come. 48-hour notice should be sufficient.
- There are no public restrooms in the garden.
- Albeit huge, it is just enough to explore for a few hours. You can allot 1 to 2 hours for this area.
We hope this guide helps you navigate the different botanical gardens in Portland. Think we missed something? Let us know!
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