If you’ve visited Portland before, you’ve likely admired the thousands of blooms at the International Rose Test Garden. Perhaps you’ve even wandered the rows of rose bushes at Peninsula Park. Now it’s time to round out your floral explorations with a visit to Southeast Portland’s lush Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden.
Flora and Fauna
Tucked between Reed College and the Eastmoreland Golf Course, Crystal Springs was founded in 1950 as a rhododendron test garden. Today, the park boasts more than 2,500 rhododendrons, azaleas and other plants spread across 9.5 acres (4 hectares). Small placards identify the flora for visitors, and self-guided tour booklets are available on-site.
One of Portland’s best waterfowl-watching spots, the garden is home to nearly 100 types of birds and other wildlife. Settle in on a bench by Crystal Lake and enjoy the sight of dozens of ducks and geese. Listen for the trills and squawks of scrub jays, red-winged blackbirds, songs sparrows, green-backed herons and many other bird species.
Two bits of avian advice before you visit: First, don’t plan on bringing a snack for the birds. (A sign at the entrance declares “No bread, please!”) Secondly, decades of visitors have made these waterfowl rather brave when faced with human guests. So if a gaggle of geese blocks your path, it may be wise to choose a different route.
Visiting the Garden
Rhododendrons typically bloom from late February through July, and peak in late April to early May. But thanks to the park’s many other plants, animals and water features, you can enjoy Crystal Springs all year. The park features a number of benches and ADA-accessible paths, allowing folks of all ages and abilities to enjoy the grounds. Even dogs are allowed, provided that they are leashed.
Tips for Visiting Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden
When is the garden open?
Wednesdays: 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Guests are welcome to enjoy the garden until 4:00 p.m. Gates for the garden and parking lot will lock shortly thereafter.
How much does it cost?
Free for children 10 years and younger
Admission is waived on Mondays, though donations are encouraged.
Details are subject to change; please check Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden’s website for current information.
What is the best time of year to visit?
Bathrooms and parking are available on-site, and group tours can be arranged with advanced notice.
Events at the Garden
Crystal Springs hosts two annual flower events, presented by the Portland chapter of the American Rhododendron Society. The Early Blooming Rhododendron & Daffodil Show and Sale takes place in early April. The larger Mother’s Day Show and Sale is held during Mother’s Day weekend in mid-May (which is also peak bloom time). Both shows feature a large plant sale and a judged flower show that is open to all competitors.
Crystal Springs is also a popular spot for weddings, photoshoots and other events. Portions of the park may be closed for private celebrations on weekend afternoons in the summer. For more information, visit weddingsatcrystalsprings.com.
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