Forest Trails Volunteer Crew: Harriet & Tim Arnold, Ember Furlong & Barb Douglas

  Meerkerk January Update

Crews Brushed Down the Fern Fronds  Widening the Trail
Finished Forest Trail Groomed by Crew

The  January 9th Volunteer Work Party made quick work of the fo r est pre serve trails. Volunteers brushed the ferns down, pruned the tree limbs, carried away leaf & log debris, and swept & groomed the trails. "What a visual difference it made!",  said Exe cutive Director, Kathryn Hurtley  "The trails had become difficult and uninviting to  walk due to the overgrowth, but with Craig Holmquis t's guidance
Volunteer Jane O'Dell clears brush
and volunteer enthusiasm,  the crews easily cleared three forest loops  and opened up the paths for visitors  to once again walk side by side a nd enjoy the nature trails ."

Special thanks to volunteers: Jane O'Dell, Harriet & Tim Arnold, Ann & Steve Holmberg, P aul Louden, Barb Douglas,  Cheri Anderson, Ember Martin-Furlong, Kathy Rogers, and Janet Wodjenski. 
Frank Simpson
Before coming to Meerkerk Frank Simpson worked in the landscape profession for over 35 years in a variety of locations including Ireland, England and California.  Rooted in traditional horticulture practice, his work centered on landscape management and the promotion of regionally sustainable landscapes.

He combines his passion for plants with a desire to contribute his knowledge and experience to the management and ongoing development of Meerkerk as leading horticultural attraction. Beginning in Ireland with an early interest in plants, he pursued formal training in horticulture and garden management in the National Botanic Garden, Dublin. Learning through a combination of course work and practicums, the program provided a solid foundation in the principles and practice of horticulture.

Upon successful completion of the program, he operated and landscape management and arboriculture business servicing clients around Ireland and the UK.  An opportunity to study landscape design prompted a move to California where he completed a masters degree in landscape architecture while, at the same time, establishing a garden management business serving estate gardens in and around California.  Since 2009, he has taught planting design and plant identification at UCLA and Cal Poly universities, where water conservation is central to the curriculum.

When asked why he wanted to work at Meerkerk, he responded, "Whidbey Island is fortunate to have a public garden like Meerkerk, a unique venue that combines some of the great wonders of cultivated plant life with acres of beautiful natural woodland. Great gardens are the result of hard work and Meerkerk is no exception. It's presence on the island is not only the result of the Meerkerk's vision and legacy, but the outcome of dedicated community members who have stewarded the garden through to the present day."

As a highly skilled garden manager, Frank assumes the challenge of managing this landscape treasure and is committed to guiding its further development to become a place to find knowledge and peace, and a must-see destination for Whidbey's local community as well as visitors to the Pacific Northwest.  

Please join the Board & Staff in welcoming our new Garden Manager! Stop by and say hello soon.
A big thank you goes out to Meerkerk friends and members who responded with over $12,000  in contributions to support garden projects in 2016.

The Horticulture Committee is working on the upgrade concepts for new pathways in the entrance garden previously known as the Test Garden. "We definitely want to avoid impacting the Peak Bloom season with physical changes until we finalize the overall improvements," says Board President, Don Lee. "Consequently, the staff and volunteers will be pruning, consolidating planting beds, identifying focal points, and working on improved signage during the next few months."

The Facility Committee is concentrating on upgrading electrical systems in the lower pump house which will ultimately provide a redundant water supply for the gardens. Committee chair, Lee Williamson says, "With the potential for another dry summer, it is important that Meerkerk utilize all available water sources in order to sustain the gardens now and into the future." 

The contributions from members through the Rainbow Fund enables all the current projects to stay on track and keeps the momentum strong. Thanks again to everyone who gave so generously!
Meerkerk Gardens Benefit Gala!
May 21, 2016
7:00 pm Tickets $50
Holmes Harbor Cellars
Greenbank, WA

Mark your calendars for this year's Meerkerk Benefit Gala which will held at the beautiful Holmes Harbor Cellars Winery located at 4591 Honeymoon Bay Road, Greenbank, Washington starting at 7:00 pm. 

Come and enjoy an evening with friends while enjoying wine, music, entertainment, and scrumptious hors d'oeuvres. 

Don't miss your chance to bid on unique auction items while enjoying a little frivolity. 

Tickets are $50 and will go on sale in April.

Bloodgood Maple planted by the
Meerkerk Gatehouse
Bloodgood Japanese Maple

While some early signs of flowering are beginning to show, much the garden is in sleep mode at this time of year. Among the tasks we can get around to at this time of year is the pruning of ornamental trees such as the Japanese maples that are so useful in both small and large scale gardens. 

Among those that you will find at Meerkerk Rhododendron Gardens is the Bloodgood Japanese maple ( Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood' ), one of the best of the purple leaved selections. Like other Japanese maples it is a deciduous tree that can grow to a height of 15 ft. with an equal spread. S mall reddish flowers in spring are followed by red fruits later in the year while the deep red, dissected leaves provide a colorful canopy.

 It is best located where there is no competition from neighboring trees so as to allow the graceful canopy  to develop unhindered. It grows happily in any moist soil so long as it is well draining. 

We prune the tree, not to control its size but to maintain a good shape and an open canopy. Removal of crossing br anches, dead/diseased wood and any branches that don't contribute to the outer canopy is typical of the type of pruning appropriate to this maple. Avoid removal of more than one third of the canopy in any single year. A follow up light pruning can be carried out in mid-summer if needed.
Acer japonicum

The cultivar originated in Bloodgood Nursery, Long Island, NY, but it should be sourced from a good supplier to ensure it is true to type. Other Japanese maples on display at Meerkerk include Acer japonicum 'Aconitifolium', Acer palmatum var. dissectum and Acer palmatum.

--Article by Frank Simpson,
Garden Manager 

"My best acquaintances are those with whom I spoke no word."
--Emily Dickinson