Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Love thou the rose, yet leave it on its stem

"Love thou the rose, yet leave it on its stem."
~ Edward Robert Bulwer Lytton, 19th century English poet and statesman, from A Night in Italy.

A rose is a rose is a rose ...

Being a caretaker and photographer of nine rose bushes that shine brilliantly in our backyard garden, my appreciation for roses has grown exponentially over the past 13 years we have resided in the foothills above Oakland in the San Francisco Bay Area. Roses have become an everyday part of my life.

In photographing our roses and sharing them with my friends via my Facebook page, I have gained a new appreciation for their colorful beauty and their fragrance, too. It's always about how lovely a rose smells when left on its stem.

As it happened, earlier this month while on holiday in Portland, Oregon, we spent one morning visiting the International Rose Test Garden in the City of Roses. Founded in 1917, it is the oldest official, continuously operated public rose test garden in the United States.

While the primary purpose of the International Rose Test Garden is to serve as a testing ground for new rose varieties, in the beginning, hybridists sent roses from around the world to the Portland garden for testing and to keep them safe from the destruction of the bombing that was taking place in Europe during World War I.

On the day of our visit, the sun shone brightly in the Portland sky overhead. The vista looking out from the hills where the International Rose Test Garden and its companion gardens reside was very inviting to us. Walking through the various gardens gave us an up-close view of many different hybrids of roses and a chance to study their color, form, foliage and fragrance. And, simply to admire all of the beautiful nature surrounding us.

A beautiful summer day at the Portland Rose Gardens.

Operated by the Parks and Recreation Department, Portland's Rose Gardens are open in the spring, summer and fall seasons and closed in winter from December 23 to March 12. Admission is free and photographing of the hundreds of beautiful roses is highly encouraged.

Photographs by Michael Dickens, copyright 2012. All rights reserved.

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