WINE & RHODIES - MAY 21, 2016

  Meerkerk April Update

Auction Item Donated:  "Herons Point of View" Acrylic on Canvas board by Artist: Bob Bengtsson
"This year's Benefit Gala is going to be fast paced and full of good cheer," says Executive Director Kathryn Hurtley. The tickets are going fast - only 110 will be sold. "The Holmes Harbor Cellars Winery lends itself to an intimate evening and we want the attendees to experience an extra special affair."
"We have had a lot of fun putting together silent auction baskets, says Gala Chair, Pat Sasson. We have a basket called " When the Lights Go Out" for those special Whidbey weather moments when you need a savory bottle of wine, delicious chocolate, and a flashlight while you wait. There will be picnic baskets, cooking baskets, and of course gardening baskets loaded with unique items to entice active bidding throughout the evening.

Music will be provided by the Skinny Ties and duo Kae & Jean. 

Gala tickets ($50) are available by calling the admin office at 360.678.1912. Call soon, the tickets are selling fast!
The Meerkerk Board of Directors is pleased to announce the confirmation of its newest board member: Pat Sasson. Pat and her husband moved to Washington in 1998 from New Jersey. In 1999, she became a master gardener and has been an active volunteer at Meerkerk and within the gardening community ever since.

Pat is well acquainted with the Meerkerk Gardens, its history, and its personnel. She has served on fundraising committees and has taken a lead role with several of Meerkerk's signature events, such as the Meerkerk Medley and the Wine & Rhodies Gala Benefit.

"We are so fortunate to have Pat join the Meerkerk Board of Directors," says Board President Don Lee. "I have known Pat for years and have appreciated her past and current efforts in support of Meerkerk. Her commitment to its success has been unwavering for almost two decades. She will be a great addition to the Meerkerk Board."
Spring Splendor by Don Wodjenski
Join us at the Meerkerk Gardens on Saturday, May 7th as we present,
Photographing the Spring Garden with award winning Whidbey Island photographer, Don Wodjenski. The class will meet at the Meerkerk Gardens at 1pm and finish at 5pm.
The class will begin with a simple tutorial on how best to preset your camera (any camera) for photographing flowers and learn some helpful composition guidelines. 

Participants will then stroll the gardens with Instructor Wodjenski, capturing the many subjects available. At 4:00 pm, participants will reassemble to share their photos.
Participants of any skill level and with any type of camera are invited to join the group. Registration is limited to 15 participants at $50 per person or $85 per couples. Call Meerkerk's Admin Office at 360.678.1912 to reserve your seat. Sign up early! Limited seating!
Whidbey Island photographer Don Wodjenski has worked as an Arts and Photography instructor through Skagit Valley College, South Whidbey Schools, and Coupeville Schools since moving to the island in 1979.
To see Wodjenski's wide range of photographic work visit his website at and explore the galleries.
Feel free to email Don with any questions about your camera and skill level for the class at   or call him at 360-632-4412.

Sunday May 8th
Noon - 4 pm
$10 Adults
Children under 16 FREE

Treat Mom to a relaxing day strolling the gardens, listening to harp music, partaking in yummy slices of Whidbey pies, and appreciating the splendid views of Holmes Harbor from the Presentation Grounds.

Bring a Picnic Blanket - Bring a Picnic Lunch  -  Bring a Smile to Mom's Face!

Using a black light box demonstrates how bees find pollen on flowers.
At the end of the Botany Adventure lessons, students are asked what they liked most about their time  i n the garden. One young student thought for a very long time and then said, "Everything!"
For the next 10 weeks, students from Oak Harbor, Coupeville, and South Whidbey schools districts will arrive to learn about pollinators in the gardens from the Botany Adventure Volunteer Guid es.
Students learn about planting seeds.
"This year's group of volunteers are enthusiastic and ready," says Martha Hollis. Martha has taken the lead on organizing the supplies, refining the lesson plans, and training volunteers. Martha believes that, "This program means a lot to our volunteers, we all feel it is important for youn g people to have quality time in nature and in the garden. Our lives  are so busy and so 'digital' that this type of program becomes essential for Meerkerk to offer to the Island's school districts."
The Botany Adventure Program is supported by the Greenbank Garden Club, the Island County Master Gardeners, Coupeville Lions Club, Coupeville Garden Club, South Whidbey Garden Club, and the Oak Harbor Garden Club.

Weather permitting, on May 14th from 11:00 to 1:00 pm, local artist Bobbi Bradley will be painting plein air oil landscapes at the Meerkerk Gatehouse Garden location. Bobbi lives in Coupeville and has been painting for several years. She is a Certified Bob Ross Instructor and uses a wet-on-wet technique for her landscape paintings.

"Because Ann Meerkerk was a lover of the arts, we feel it is important to incorporate art and local artists within the gardens," says Executive Director Kathryn Hurtley. "I think Ann would be pleased to see new art being created at Meerkerk."

Through her love of rhododendrons, Ann Meerkerk drew inspiration from her gardens. She painted in watercolor throughout her life, but she also enjoyed weaving and textiles. Originally, the gardens had an open meadow where she raised sheep and then had the wool processed for her textile designs. 

Stop by and visit with Bobbi and view her plein air renditions of the Meerkerk Gardens rhododendrons and springtime blossoms.


May 3, 2016 will be the sixth year the Seattle Foundation has come together to help those in our community who need it most.  A one-day, online charitable giving event, GiveBIG is designed to raise money for our region's hard-working nonprofits.

The Meerkerk Gardens has been invited to participate and receive funds from donors who want to participate in this year's fundraising efforts organized by the Seattle Foundation.

It's easy to give! Visit the website   and enter in Meerkerk Gardens . Then enter in your donation and contribution information. 

The Seattle Foundation is hoping to raise $20 million in one day to support nonprofits that do important charitable work in our region. Thanks for all your support!


R. 'Lohder's White'
As the season progresses, it seems like there is an endless array of color. Each week new flowers unfold, each with its own unique charm. Don't like blues or purples? Then how about yellows or whites - so many shades? All are represented well throughout the garden, and with so many, it comes close to visual overload, and I have to look to the calming green of a vine maple or big-leaf maple. 

The amazing display of huge pink-turning to white scented flowers of Rhododendron lohderi 'King George' consistently commands the attention of visitors. If you have enough space (about 10x10ft), why would you not want to have one outside your kitchen window? Its cousin R. 'Lohder's White' is equally brilliant but without any hint of pink. 

R. Yakushimanum
The combination of pink and white occurs in many cultivars. The species R. Yakushimanum begins with a pronounced pink at the bud stage, then unfurls pure white petals against a backdrop of handsome green foliage.  Nearby, R. 'Marc Commbell Rwain' has similar charm but retains hints of pink on the open petals. 

R. 'Elsie Watson'
Add to these, R. 'Elsie Watson', a Frank Fujioka hybrid, with ruffled pink petals along with R.'Dreamland and you are assured of a lasting combination of good pinks and whites. 

Of the many trees in flower now, Sorbus aria 'Lutescens' (Whitebeam) has been getting a lot of attention. The new leaves, light green against the backdrop of the native firs combine with the clusters of white flowers to provide a stunning display.
Sorbus aria 'Lutescens'

A cousin of Mountain Ash (Sorbus aucuparia), Whitebeam is said to be native of England and seems just as happy with the climate here. It is just one of the many interesting trees planted throughout the garden. Many of these get attention for their spectacular flowers such as the flowering cherries, magnolias, dove tree and the red-vein enkianthus (Enkianthus campanulatus). The latter is in flower now with hanging clusters of creamy white flowers marked with finely cut red veination. It is hugely attractive to pollinators and literally hums from about mid-morning to late afternoon.

Enkianthus campanulatus
Less ostentatious but nonetheless worthy of mention, trees such as the European copper beech, green Japanese, vine and big leaf maples are all in full leaf about now giving us a welcome canopy and varying degrees of light and shade. 

I am left with no space to mention the numerous yellow and orange flowered azaleas which are responsible for the delicious scent that comes as a nice surprise as you approach them. More on these another time. 
   -- Frank Simson, Garden Manager