Touch Grass: The Rhododendron Garden

By Adrian Keller Feld

Located just off Reed’s campus, the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden was founded in 1950 by the Portland chapter of the American Rhododendron Society. Per the Garden’s website, the location was actually, “referred to as Shakespeare Island by students at Reed because of the plays performed there.” A 9.5 acre garden, it boasts over 2,500 plants, giving a special look into many varieties that are otherwise not represented in Portland. The Garden is named for Crystal Springs Lake, which surrounds much of it and provides space for many interesting bridges. Admission to the Garden is free with a Reed ID, however for anyone else the price is $5, except on Mondays when it is free for all. The Garden is open 10am-3:30pm most days of the week, but opens late at 1pm on Wednesdays. 

The parking lot is often full, with the space being a beloved natural escape in the city, and a popular wedding venue. So, as Reed students it’s best to go during the week, because there will be crowds and possibly areas closed off for events over the weekend, though it is also more quiet on rainy days. The Garden is also ADA compliant, with the main paths being wheelchair accessible, and there are many benches dotted around to rest and take in the scenery. The Rhododendron Garden is well-known to many Reed students, with its proximity to campus and free admission, but should be known to all. In contrast to the Canyon, the Garden is not an attempt at re-wilding, but rather a carefully planned out space boasting many different types of plants. It is beautiful year-round, with green plants and soon Fall colors now, but it really shines in spring and into summer, when its namesake rhododendrons are in bloom, filling the Garden with color.

Getting to the Garden from Campus is very easy, as its parking lot is directly across the street from the West Parking lot, outside the PAB. Once there, Reed students can walk in by just showing their Reed ID, and then follow the paths snaking through the Garden, get lost in the scenery, or find a spot to do homework. The Garden also contains over 90 species of birds, as well as plenty of other wildlife, so while great to look at it is important not to disturb or feed the animals, and always take trash out of the Garden. To learn more about the Garden, their website is, and their on instagram @csrgpdx. So, go out and touch grass in the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden!

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