Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden

12 05 2013

IMG_4875Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden’s unexpected sanctuary in urban southeast Portland is ideal for a stroll or picnic with a date, friends, or children. Its romantic backdrop with fountains, flowers and winding paths lends to hand-in-hand walks and uninterrupted conversations (well, as long as you are sans children!). Benches sprawled around the nearly 10 acres of foliage provide relaxing spots to chat with a friend. Duck ponds and manicured lawns tucked amidst massive rhododendron trees keep children occupied and more willing to endure multiple photo opportunities. Crystal Springs Lake borders much of this botanical garden, its marshes hugging the west side, slipping under bridges and meeting the inner ponds fed by 13 springs. Waterfalls tumble down mossy rocks brought in from Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams. Pack your binoculars for an intimate peek at the 100 species of birds that flock to Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden, and your camera to capture panoramas and close-ups of the 2,500 rhodys, azaleas, and a multitude of other plants.

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The oldest rhododendron at Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden traces its roots prior to 1917 when William S. Ladd owned the property. Ladd, a two-term Portland Mayor in the 1800s, originally named this parcel of land Crystal Springs Farm. Years of neglect brought the overgrowth of blackberries and weeds, and the dilapidation of a Shakespearean theatre once run by nearby Reed College students. The Portland Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society (ARS) adopted Crystal Springs in the 1950s, began a test garden on the site, and held its first rhododendron show. The garden’s name officially was changed in 1964. Donations and dedication keep Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden the botanical paradise it has become and the oldest public garden of the ARS.

IMG_4880You may enjoy the garden year-round from dawn until dusk. Thursday through Monday from March 1 through Labor Day, admission is $4 per person 12 and over. Admission is free any day after 6 p.m., every Tuesday and Wednesday, the day after Labor Day through February, or anytime for Friends of Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden. Some areas are not accessible on weekends due to special events. For more information, call (503) 771-8386 or go to for a group tour or to for rental information. Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden is located at 5801 SE 28th in Portland, Oregon 97214 near Reed College and Eastmoreland Golf Course.

Treat yourself this season to exploring Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden.


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