Rhododendron Gardens was founded by Ann and Max
Meerkerk in the early 1960's. Enchanted by Whidbey Island, they began these
Gardens with 13 acres.
The Rothschild's Exbury
Gardens in England, Max's life
in Asia and our native Rhododendron macrophyllum, influenced the Meerkerks.
Ann was active with the WA Park Arboretum and the American Rhododendron
Society, Seattle Chapter. Together, they visualized creating a Pacific Northwest style woodland
garden enveloped by a forest preserve. Over the years, the Meerkerks purchased
an additional 40 acres to achieve this goal.
The Meerkerks began hybridizing rhododendrons and collecting
unique specimens of rhododendrons, flowering trees and conifers. They planted
the first five acres, known as the "Secret Garden" as a miniature
Before Ann passed away in 1979, she bequeathed the Gardens
to the Seattle Rhododendron Society to care for as a "peaceful woodland
garden with an emphasis on rhododendrons and companion plants."
Meerkerk Rhododendron Gardens is an independent not-for-profit
organization open to the public. Fifty three acres of
inspirational woodland gardens and a forest preserve offer over
5 miles of trails to breathe in the serene beauty and nature
is also a research facility working on creating new and improved
hybrid rhododendrons as initiated by Ann Meerkerk. Our genetic
library is comprised of over 150 years of combined hybridising
from well known hybridists from around the world including
historic leaders such as Lem, Brandt and Ostbow along with
modern hybridists: Fujioka, Watson, Barlup, Simmons-Otness,
O'Donnell, Berg, Workman, Hachman and others.
Gardens is a living classroom as well, offering Botany Adventure
Nature Tours to 3-5 graders throughout the year.
year the Gardens must raise over 90% of its operating funds.
This is made possible through Friends of Meerkerk memberships,
plant sales, admission donations, grants, fund-raisers and
contributions. The Meerkerk endowment covers just under 10% of
the cost of caring for this unique place on Earth.
thank you for your generosity in contributing in support of our
endeavors: to beautify the earth, provide a sanctuary for nature
and to care for this outdoor classroom and living museum...all
right in the heart of Whidbey Island.