A regional treasure: Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden in Portland’s SE Sellwood-Moreland neighborhood.
In an out-of-this-world setting surrounding southeast Portland’s spring-fed Crystal Springs Lake, you’ll find this fairy-tale garden, replete with ponds, meadows, woods, marshes, waterfalls, streams, footbridges, and 100 species of birds.
With more than 2,500 rhododendrons, azaleas, and other complementary plantings, Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden is a remarkable achievement.
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All plants in the garden were donated or funded by friends of the garden.
Volunteers from the Portland Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society, Friends of Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden, and the Master Gardeners program maintain the grounds and manage educational programs and special events.
In early spring through summer, you’ll find a spectacular display of rhododendrons, many varieties rarely seen in the Pacific Northwest. In fall, companion trees add their dramatic color.
William S. Ladd, two-term Portland mayor in the 1800s, originally owned this property, called Crystal Springs Farm.
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Reed College students referred to the property as Shakespeare Island because of the Shakespearean plays once performed there.
In 1950, abandoned and overgrown with brush and blackberries, the property became the site of a display and test garden, developed by the Portland Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society.
Through efforts of Portland Chapter members and other volunteers, and with the support of Park Superintendent C.P. Keyser, the garden grew and flourished.
The first rhododendron show was held in 1956, and the garden was officially named Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden in 1964.
The oldest rhododendron in today’s garden was planted over 100 years ago.
The original garden was designed by landscape architect, Ruth Hansen. Landscape architect, Wallace K. Huntington, designed the portion of the garden known as the Peninsula in 1977.
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The rocks used to build the waterfalls and other features were gathered from Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams.
Click here to get our Walking Portland: SE | Westmoreland, Eastmoreland, Reed College & Crystal Springs Garden online route map.
Natural spring-fed lake, ponds, meadows, woods, marshes, waterfalls, and streams.
Hilly to flat with steps and paved and unpaved paths. Wheelchair-accessible throughout.
More than 100 species: American Wigeon, Wood Duck, Canvasback, Mallard, Bufflehead, Gadwall, Lesser Scaup, Ruddy Duck, Hooded Merganser, Cackling, Canada, and Greater White-fronted Geese, American Coot, Pied-billed Grebe, Great Blue and Green Herons, Double-crested Cormorant, Glaucous-winged and Western Gulls, Red-tailed Hawk, Western Scrub-Jay, Steller’s Jay, Vaux’s Swift, Anna’s and Rufous Hummingbirds, Northern Flicker, Belted Kingfisher, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Varied Thrush, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Townsend’s Warbler, Song Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco. Uncommon: Eurasian Wigeon, and Golden-crowned Sparrow.
When To Go
Year-round; rhododendrons and azaleas in bloom spring through early summer.
Garden tours, event rentals, restrooms.
City park. Open 6-6 October through March, 6-10 April through September. Admission $5 from March through Labor Day, free from Labor Day through the end of February.
Bring a camera. A telephoto lens, although not necessary for most shots, is nice to have on hand.
Bird Lover Sites Nearby
Mount Tabor Park
About five miles northeast of the garden with warblers and other migrants in spring, and owls and hummingbirds year-round.
Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge
About 1.7 miles southwest of the garden, with over 185 species of birds.
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Portland Metro Walkabouts
The SkyBlue Portland Real Estate Team hosts monthly group walks through some of Portland Metro’s most beautiful and interesting neighborhoods.
For info on our monthly Walking Portland group walks, check out our Facebook page, Women Who Walk (@pdxwomenwhowalk).