Portland is a city with elevated offerings, as well as that wild Pacific Northwest spirit. You can be outdoorsy and cosmopolitan, free-spirited, and refined. One example of this balance comes from a day in Portland including access to both genteel gardens and foraged fun. You don’t have to choose—keep your pinky up and let your hair down with the suggestions below.
Portland International Rose Test Garden is the oldest official continuously operated public rose test garden in the United States. The garden features more than 10,000 roses, which attract more than just bees—hundreds of thousands of visitors enjoy the blooms each year.
Peninsula Park & Rose Garden is perfect for those seeking a hidden bud within the City of Roses. Just off a residential stretch of North Rosa Parks Way, find 16 acres of park developed as part of Portland’s 1905 “City Beautiful” movement. Laid out in a symmetrical pattern, the garden features 5,000 different rose plants.
Portland Japanese Garden is one of the most authentic Japanese gardens outside of Japan. Tucked into the West Hills of Portland, the grounds feature five separate garden styles, working in harmony to create a sense of peace.
Lan Su Chinese Garden is an authentic Ming Dynasty-style garden that takes up an entire block of the city’s historic Old Town Chinatown neighborhood. Wander the grounds or take a guided tour of the covered walkways, bridges, koi-filled ponds, and landscape framing the man-made Zither Lake.
Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden is nestled between Reed College and the Eastmoreland Golf Course. From late February through July, the garden blooms with more than 2,500 rhododendrons, azaleas and other plants. The garden is well known for its Mother’s Day Show and Sale.
On the eastside, The Grotto sits off Portland’s bustling Sandy street. Guests are transported to a tranquil walk along this renowned Catholic sanctuary. Admission to the upper-level meditation garden includes access to the architectural gem of the cliffside Meditation Chapel.
For a historical and cultural approach to foraging in the Portland region, first visit Portland State University’s Student Sustainability Center for resources about foraging, indigenous plants, and the floral and faunal heritage of Portland.
No matter the skill level, everyone is encouraged to enlist expert guidance. Wildfood Adventures is a locally based education resource for foragers of all skill levels. Owner John Kallas provides workshops, expeditions and guide services related to wild edible plants and foraging. Additional foraging expertise can be found from Forager Goods Company. The brand partners with fellow foragers and forest conservation non-profits to offer limited additional foraging gear and resources. Follow their Instagram feed for foraging-based recipes, which you can trust since owner Karl Holl is also a local chef and Culinary Director at Smith Tea.
For fungi food forays, Morchella opened in October 2021 with a menu devoted to foraged and wild foods by Chef Cameron Lee Dunlap. The restaurant showcases seasonal ingredients not typically found on menus, including pickled elderberry, wood sorrel, and wild sumac. Clarklewis has long been associated with Portland’s farm-to-table ethos; though, the restaurant also holds a commitment to foraged foods. Peep the dinner menu for wild foraged mushrooms on gnocchi, pizza, pork tenderloin and more.
Beyond food, foraging is also part of the wellness offerings in Portland. At Blendily, owner Ivy Chuang grows and gathers her own herbs and flowers for her skincare line. Additionally, Roots & Crowns’ owner, Max Turk, creates a yearly release of the Essence of Violet tincture from foraged violets. Add the tincture to water, the bath, or even your own tongue.
Foraged, gardened or both, Portland’s connection to nature is undeniable, far-reaching, and inexplicably tied to the everyday here.