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With its warm, dry summers and wet but mild winters, it's a small wonder that gardening has earned Portland the nickname City of Roses. So pervasive are plants, parks and gardens in Portland that the city has been named one of the world's most green; or environmentally-friendly cities.
The International Rose Test Garden is the most prominent of the many rose gardens in Portland. Founded in 1917, it is the oldest public rose test garden in the United States. New rose varieties are sent to the Garden to be tested and Portland issues Gold Medal Awards for the best varieties. It has 7,000 rose plants and 550 rose varieties. The Rose Bud Thorn Pageant is held every year but it is the city's Portland Rose Festival that is America's largest and oldest rose show. The festival features more than 60 events including parades, bands and fireworks, carnival rides, car and boat races as well as many more attractions. Part of the festival is the Spring Rose Show which exhibits more than 2,000 blooms.
The rose is such an important part of Portland many companies and establishments have it in their names. The Rose Garden Sports Complex is the home of the Portland Trail Blazers of the NBA while cyclists race at the Alpenrose Velodrome. The city's hockey team is called The Rosebuds and its roller derby team the Rose City Rollers.
With roses and gardens come parks. In 1995, the people of Portland voted to acquire what now amounts to 33 square kilometers of natural areas that are permanently protected from being developed. Forest Park, is the largest US park located inside a city. Mills End Park in Portland is the world's smallest park measuring 0.3 sq.m. Washington Park is the site of the Japanese Garden and the International Rose Test Garden. Portland even has a program, Growing Gardens, that builds gardens in backyards and schools to encourage gardening.
With all its parks and plants, Portland has lived up to its nickname and awards.
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