Meerkerk October Update


Stephanie Rodden
Meerkerk's Board President Don Lee is pleased to announce that Stephanie Rodden has joined the Meerkerk Board of Directors. "Stephanie is both a master gardener and a long time supporter of the gardens,. She will be a great asset for the board and organization," says Don Lee. 

According to Stephanie she has been a fan and member of the Meerkerk Gardens for more than ten years, ever since a neighbor gave her and her husband complimentary admission tickets to check it out. 

Stephanie says that during her first visit she discovered the beauty of Meerkerk's riotous spring flower display and feels that it is matched at other times of the year by the serenity of the woods, special concerts with the backdrop of Saratoga Passage, and the wonder of the Big Leaf Valley. 

She says she loves to bring guests to Meerkerk to see rhododendrons at their best in the Pacific Northwest and also loves to walk in the Big Leaf Valley to see species rhodies; "It is fun to imagine I am walking in their native habitats in China, Korea, or Japan."

Stephanie says that as a new board member of Meerkerk she hopes to be able to contribute her time and knowledge to help ensure Meerkerk's future will be appreciated by many. Also, she plans to continue to give complimentary admission tickets to people whose interest might be piqued and who might want to help others continue to enjoy the peaceful woodlands of Meerkerk Gardens.

Welcome to the Meerkerk Board Stephanie!


Don Lee and Doug Zook
Friends of the Meerkerk gathered together to celebrate the contributions and service of retiring board member Doug Zook as well as a Nursery Manager Susie Reynolds and Special Projects Manager Barton Cole. 

"It's important to recognize the special contributions of people who give so much to Meerkerk," said Board President Don Lee. 

Doug Zook has served on the Meerkerk Board of Directors for over 13 years. He and his wife Jean began helping at Meerkerk almost 20 years ago: helping in weeding and pruning the gardens. Doug said that "Meerkerk is family and that is why it is so special and has sustained over the years. It is a special place for many."

Susie was presented with A Painting of the Nursery Sales Shed
Susie Reynolds, also began as a volunteer in the gardens weeding. She then became interested in all aspects of the garden and over the years has not only gained a vast knowledge of the rhododendrons on the property, but has served as the Nursery Manager since 2009. 

She said, "I can't believe how fast 20 years has gone by. It's a wonderful place to be a part of." She thanked Don Lee for his help and guidance over the years. "We share a deep love of Meerkerk and we both want it to continue well into the future."

Barton Cole and Meerkerk Friends
Special Projects Manager, Barton Cole has been with Meerkerk Gardens since 2006. One of his first projects was helping in the construction of the Gatehouse. He was also the project manager for the rain garden which is responsible for moving the surface water drainage through the gardens preventing flooding.

Don Lee shared with the attendees that, "Barton's contributions and commitment over the years has made a significant difference at Meerkerk." 

Attendees enjoyed an afternoon of yummy appetizers, refreshments, and camaraderie.

A Happy Group of Rotary Club Volunteers
On a cool afternoon, October 5 th, a cheerful team of  members of the South Whidbey Rotary Club descended on the garden with boots on and tools in hand to help us re-claim a section of the rain garden next to Meerkerk Lane. 

The rain garden functions to channel runoff from upstream through the Secret Garden area and down-slope to the creek on the north of the property. 

Being a seasonally wet area, the rain garden is planted with primulas, cowslips, irises and ornamental grasses. Unfortunately it is also home to creeping buttercup that, once established, spreads rapidly to form a dense mat among the cultivated plants.  The task: remove the creeping buttercup. 
Alicia Dietrich and Ed Halloran

Undaunted, the Rotary team took it on and with, skill and determination, became the buttercup's nemesis. All the while cheerfully exchanging news on the comings and goings on the Island; they filled tarp after tarp until there was not one weed in sight.

As all gardeners know, keeping up with weeding is one of our biggest challenges and with over, ten acres under cultivation at Meerkerk, it's a daily task. With this in mind, it's difficult to overstate what a boost it was to have the South Whidbey Rotary Club take on this project. 

We have already begun to follow up by lifting and dividing the plants so as to better feature the display of flowers for early spring visitors to the garden. We hope the team can make it back to see the fruits of their labor.  

A Meerkerk shout out and thanks to Karen Renz, Hank Adolfi, Tracey Schultz, Kathy Rogers, Gretchen Rogers held by Alicia Dietrich, Jim Rogers, Alex Bonesteel, Bill Leeds, Bily Ducharme, and Ed Halloran. Thank you South Whidbey Rotary Club!
--Frank Simpson, Garden Manager

Acer rubrum  October Glory
Tempting as it is to stay inside as the weather turns, a walk around the garden has a lot to offer anyone determined to enjoy what the garden has to offer. 

The past month brought us hues of red, yellow, and orange that changed almost daily as the trees slowly gave way to fall.  It is a surprisingly extended display. Maples of all sorts continue to live up to their reputation.  

A young red maple, (Acer rubrum 'October Glory'), many vine maples (Acer circinatum), and Bloodgood maple ( Acer palmatum 'Bloodgood') by the gatehouse all make worthy garden trees.

Enkianthus campanulatus
While Persian ironwood (Parrotia persica) didn't show much color this year, redvein Enkianthus (Enkianthus campanulatus) created a wonderful display of ripe apricot color. 

The light at this time of year is like no other and particularly when it falls on the golden leaves of the tulip maple (Liriodendron tulipifera) or the gingko tree (Gingko biloba).  

While these two might be difficult to accommodate in a smaller garden, they deserve a place in a city park or as a street tree.

Liriodendron tulipifera
Gingko biloba

Rhododendron dauricum
Not to be outdone, some rhododendrons either can't wait for the season to come around or just simply are in flower for the joy of it. This lilac-pink on R. dauricum which already gave us a fine display earlier in the season is, nonetheless back in flower again. 

Along with winter-blooming Rhododendron 'Tabitha', a good early red, there is a small un-named yellow giving us a foretaste of the display yet to unfold. 

Yellow Rhododendron


"A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in --
what more could he ask? A few flowers at his feet and above him the stars."

--Victor Hugo