The Nursery is Open for the Season (March through June) and the Blooming Season has begun. 

Arlee Anderson
With a twinkle in her eye and a pair of pruners on her hip, Arlee Anderson is a veteran "Grateful Deadheader" who each week  charms the staff and volunteers at Meerkerk Gardens with her energy, enthusiasm, and creative spirit. 
She began volunteering in 2008 and for the last 9 years has helped in almost every aspect of the organization.
When asked what she likes most about Meerkerk she replied, "All of it."  She  says she enjoys experiencing  the four seasons, the peak bloom annually wows her, and as a retired school teacher/counselor, she has enjoyed the opportunity to organize and coordinate children's programs at the Gardens.
Arlee was born, raised, and educated in Montana. Upon retirement, she moved to Whidbey in 2007 to be near family and has never looked back. "The Island is my home and I have such great friends here."
Over the last 9 years the list of volunteer activities that Arlee has been either a part of or coordinated is extensive. In addition to her weekly volunteer activities, she coordinated and organized the Botany Adventure Program for 4 years and has been sharing her artistic talents with parents and children who come to make fairies from natural woodland materials for years and years. 
A rlee and fellow volunteers, Barb Douglas and Ellen Alexander
Board President Don Lee said, "Whether it's the Mother's Day event, holiday decorating, the annual gala fundraiser, or nursery sales, Arlee has been an exceptional volunteer and a true friend to Meerkerk Gardens.
It is clear that Meerkerk has benefited greatly from Arlee's talents and continual dedication. And when asked what she has gotten from volunteering at Meerkerk she replied, that she loves being in the gardens - surrounded by all the beauty and green goodness and then with a chuckle she said, "It's  cheaper than therapy."  
Thanks Arlee for all you do at Meerkerk Gardens!

Enthusiastic Shoppers at the Opening Sale Weekend

"Even with the rain, it was a fun opening weekend for the nursery," says Susie Reynolds, Meerkerk's Nursery Manager. "Our members enjoyed the Friday 'early bird' event and there were plenty of customers on Saturday."

There are still lots of rhodies to choose from throughout April and May. However, the species stock, as always, is the first group of rhodies that the shoppers scoop up. There's a few left, but hurry in  if you want to add an exotic or species rhodie to your collection.

Spring Showers and Spring Flowers

Groups of 10 or more can book a tour date at Meerkerk Gardens during the Peak Bloom Season with either Master Gardener, Don Lee or Nursery Manager, Susie Reynolds. 
Tours generally run an hour and include a history of Meerkerk Gardens, a close look at the exotic trees throughout the 10 acres, and oodles of species and hybrid rhodies to view and appreciate up close. 
Bring your book club, garden club, parent's club, or family group and learn about the trees, rhodies, and coastal woodlands of Meerkerk Gardens. Call 360.678.1912 to make arrangements.

The wedding season is upon us! Meerkerk Gardens offers a 
unique venue for those that desire a natural, intimate setting. The Gazebo offers stunning photo opportunities to complete anyone's wedding album.

If interested in booking your wedding, please contact our admin office at 360.678.1912.

   WHAT'S BLOOMING IN THE GARDENS  -- Frank Simpson, Garden Manager

R. Lutescens

Spring has been slow to come this year. Compared to last year, which was unusually mild, flowers appear to be three to four weeks behind where we were last March. 

But, at last, buds are waking up to roll out the colorful display of spring champions -  Forsythia, flowering currant, Darwin's barberry, scented viburnum and the red leaved plums along the driveway. Hellebores (still blooming) now combine with daffodils, crocus and primroses and the early Rhododendrons hint at the big display that will emerge in the coming weeks. Rhododendron Lutescens, a reliable herald of spring, is one of the first and a good companion to R. 'Cornel Pink'. 

R. Lutescens gives us a small cluster of pale yellow flowers with upswept stamens. It was introduced from China by E.H. Wilson in 1904 when he was collecting for the famous nursery of Veitch. Ours is not that old but it is a tall shrub that brightens up the shaded understory below the Douglas firs. 

Rhododendron mucronulatum  'Cornell Pink'
Rhododendron mucronulatum 'Cornell Pink' is not as tall, standing at about 6ft. and not as wide. It hails from Korea and, being deciduous, flowers on leafless stems almost like an azalea. 

Another favorite, Camellia Japonica is already open. I don't know which cultivar this one is but it gives us a reliable display of single pink blossoms each spring below the Secret Garden. It is such a good plant for the garden with its glossy green foliage and good structure. We should have more of these.

Camellia Japonica
Speaking of pinks and yellows, some other spring favorites are now showing flowers. Among these, R. Weston's Pink Diamond and R. 'Cream Delight' will draw your attention. R. 'Pink Prelude' is already fully open but appears a little washed out this year for some unknown reason. These are just a hint of the wide variety of plants already in flower at the garden. R. ririei, R. 'Tabitha' and R. Sasha are just a few of the others. 

R. Weston's Pink Diamond

Rhododendron 'Cream Delight'

"Can words describe the fragrance of the very breath of spring?" 
--Neltje Blanchan