If Portland has a secret garden, it must be the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden, which sounds like something out of a fairy tale, and rather looks like one, too.
It’s nestled alongside Eastmoreland Golf Course and Reed College and covers a little over 9 acres. A bounty of features draws visitors here, from small fountains and waterfalls to the more than 2,500 rhododendrons, azaleas, and other plants. And aside from the manicured aspects of this garden, a large swath is left to grow freely, which attracts wildlife to rest amid the upland forest and marshland vegetation.
The garden began in 1950 as a test site for varietals of rhododendrons. Previously, the area had been covered with native trees, blackberries, and the remnants of a Reed College Shakespeare theater. While the garden is far more than a test site now, the Portland Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society still uses it as an area from which to hold many flower shows and plant sales.
The gardens are open daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. from April through September and from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. from October through March.
A $4 admission charge is in place from March through Labor Day, but the rest of the year folks can visit for free.