Sitting quietly on a bench, listening to the birds and insects, it’s hard to imagine that you aren’t sitting in the center of “The Rose City.”
While Portland enjoys that moniker, I would argue that Saint Paul and Heirloom Roses, specifically, is at least a solid runner up.
The farm offers several different attractions for visitors looking to get off the beaten path. The 31 acre farm has lovely gardens with 3,000 different varieties of roses in a 5-acre public viewing are. During full bloom, it’s a sight to behold, and one that you shouldn’t miss if you are in the Yamhill Valley area during early summer (June) through early fall (October).
“We have some that hang on into late October, but really the best time to visit is between mid-June – Father’s Day -- and the end of September,” said Cheryl Malone, marketing manager. “But all roses don’t bloom at the same time, so depending on when you come up, you will see different things.”
For example, “the ramblers” as Malone called them, bloom for 30 days and are spread over arches and a long tunnel that you can walk down. Even when they aren’t blooming it’s a great display.
The farm is a wonderful place for a nice walk outside near the Willamette River or to have a picnic lunch amidst the wildlife and flora. People are welcome to have lunches at the farm, but be warned, it’s bring your own lunch, as there isn’t a restaurant in the immediate area.
“We have bloom in the gardens as late as October or November,” Malone said. But the height of the season is June and July when the “old garden” that contains the “roses of antiquity” are in bloom.
The farm celebrates “Rose Days” in June, where they talk about the history of roses in Oregon and have special guest speakers. They also focus on the value that roses have to Oregon as a cultural and economic tool.
“But a lot of people think that Heirloom Roses is all about old roses,” said Ben Hanna, President. “But we have many new varieties; hybrid teas, climbers and miniatures and we’re always expanding our line. This is the place to come if you are looking for something special or unique.”
While the garden is a wonderful place to visit or to just unwind, the core business is selling roses, and they have many different varieties – I personally used the gardens as a showroom for how roses would look in different light and weather.
The main building is staffed with a knowledgeable sales person and it is filled with supplies and tools you need for keeping your roses. In addition, through the building there is a greenhouse in the back with tables upon tables of different variety of small rose bushes you can purchase.
“We give people advice because these are roses that will last a lifetime,” Malone said. “We use and own-root roses so they last longer.”
The nursery does no grafting or budding, but rather uses a process known as “own root.” They sell the first-year cuttings that are on their own roots, grown from a leaf cutting of a mother or stock plant. Although they are initially smaller when you purchase them, they do not take long to catch up to a grafted rose.
“We ship to everywhere in the United States, so if someone comes to visit and wants to purchase roses, tell us where you want to plant and we can determine the zone and type of rose which would work best,” Malone said. “We specialize in that one-on-one care to make sure you get a plant that will work and last you a long time.”
Heirloom Roses is located in Oregon’s fertile Willamette Valley, one of the finest climates in the world for growing roses. We are just 25 miles south of Portland, Oregon the “City of Roses.”
We invite the public to come free of charge to the gardens to enjoy thousands of beautiful, fragrant roses displayed on 5 acres of themed gardens. A great place to picnic with friends and family, making a stop at the Sales Cottage to pick up a favorite rose or gift for yourself or a loved one.
The gardens are open year around from dawn till dusk. Roses bloom late May through October, with peak bloom in June.
What to bring: The rose gardens are all outside, and this being Oregon, best to check the weather forecast before you spend the day. The trails are graveled, so while during the wet season boots might not hurt, they are optional. Bring your camera during bloom season to practice some macro-photography of roses, and wider landscape shots are also nice.
Tip: If you really want to enjoy the farm, give yourself plenty of time. You can spend at least three hours walking through the gardens. If you want to linger, enjoy the sights and sounds and have lunch, expect at least half a day for your visit. They do ship plants to all around the United States, so if you do opt to buy roses, they can be shipped.
Season: They are open year-round.
Getting there: Heirloom Roses is located at 24062 NE Riverside Drive, St. Paul, Oregon.
From Newberg: Go south on HWY 219 crossing the Willamette River. Take a right on Champoeg Rd. At the fork in front of the Dairy, turn right and follow the paved road 2 miles to Heirloom Roses. Parking is on the right and the Sales Cottage is the yellow building down the driveway.
By Patrick Johnson