2023 Iris Blooms Watch

A scene from summers past: Irises in bloom along the Zig-Zag Bridge in Portland Japanese Garden. Photo by Ray Pfortner.

One of the horticultural highlights of Portland Japanese Garden in summer are the blooming of irises alongside the Zig-Zag Bridge. While every year is different, the Garden’s irises tend to bloom in late June, just as it officially becomes summer. To help plan your visit to see them, we have created this page that will be regularly updated until their blooms conclude. The best way to view these stunning flowers is by becoming a member. In addition to the many benefits of a Portland Japanese Garden membership, those who join are able to visit during exclusive hours every morning the Garden is open (8:00 – 10:00am), a time when the Garden is less crowded during these busy summer months.

Update, 7/3/2023: Our updates for 2023 have concluded, but the Garden remains as beautiful as ever. Make sure you visit soon to see the Garden as it becomes a bastion of greenery in summer!

Best of 2023

More About Irises

Photo taken 6/23/23.

Native to Japan, Iris ensata is commonly known as “Japanese iris” outside of Japan. In Japan, 花菖蒲 (hanashobu) have been cultivated for over 500 years. Oregon and Washington are home to three of the nine specialty nurseries specializing in Japanese irises in the United States. Spuria, according to the American Iris Society’s encyclopedia, “are tall (2 to 5 feet in height) and elegant, and have very attractive foliage.”

As Portland Japanese Garden transforms into a picturesque and verdant haven, the irises provide a pop of color as the harbinger of summer. The buds typically open in late June to reveal flowers nearly six inches across in shades of purple and white. Symbolizing purity and innocence, the narrow iris leaf resembles the shape of a samurai sword blade.