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City of Roses


Best and dearest flower that grows,

Perfect both to see and smell;

Words can never, never tell

Half the beauty of a Rose –

Buds that open to disclose

Fold on Fold of purest white,

Lovely pink, or that glows

Deep, sweet-scented. What a delight

To be a Fairy of the Rose!

-Cicely Mary Barker

Portland calls itself the City of Roses and I must agree that it lives up to its name. Rose bushes adorn meridians and lawns, whole parks are dedicated to hybrid roses. The Rose Test Garden has over 500 variates of roses in just about any color you could imagine. The Shakespeare Garden is my favorite part of the Test Garden, which only contains plants mentioned in his plays (which makes for lots and lots of culinary and medicinal herbs). Unfortunately, the majority of these test, hybrid roses are lacking the most transcendent, beautiful and impactful quality of roses: scent.

What the hybrid roses lack, the wild and forgotten roses more than compensate. They are teeming with the heady, rich, intoxicating and lingering scent. So much so that sometimes I catch a whiff of rose before I actually see them. That is precisely how I stumbled across roses growing in some trees on the far edge in the park adjacent to where I live. Pink, butter-cream and white roses where each in a tree which where, incedently, climbing in a hawthrone, wild cherry and a Japanese maple – all members of the rose family themselves. Coincidental?

During a walk through the woods, I saw a fine, delicate set of leaves arranged in a rose-like fashion. One frond could fit in my hand. Upon closer examination, I saw teeny, tiny little roses smaller than my pinky finger nail (and I have small hands). Sure enough, there were rose blossoms that were silver dollar to quarter size, with a larger-than-life fragrance.

This dwarf rose may very well be the Baldhip rose, Rosa gymnocarpa, but the confirm this I will have to check the hips out too see if they are indeed “bald” (no sepal remnants on the tip of the hip, or hip tip if you prefer). I made a tea from the fresh leaves and it was deliciously delicate and soothing.



Filed under: Inspiration


Tea-drinking, nature-loving acupuncturist, East Asian Medicine practitioner, herbalism and birth doula living in the Pacific Northwest.


  1. Oooh! What a lovely post. I’m quite a rose lover myself, and I much enjoyed your beautiful photos and the Rose Fairy poem too 🙂 Isn’t it just so fitting that the smallest and most demure of the roses have the best perfume! That last rose – the possible baldhip rose – is just too adorable for words.


  2. Pingback: A rose for you… « The Teacup Chronicles

  3. celia says

    I am glad the adorable-ness of the baldhip rose strikes you, too, Danielle!

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