JARS v52n1 - 1999 ARS Convention: Whidbey Island Preview

1999 ARS Convention: Whidbey Island Preview
Kristi O'Donnell
Greenbank, Washington

Five chapters of the ARS are hosting the 1999 ARS Annual Convention in Bellevue, Wash. One of the days of the conference will be spent visiting several fine gardens on scenic Whidbey Island.

Conference attendees will be able to explore the gardens of hybridizer extraordinaire, Frank Fujioka. Frank's artistic eye combines subtle coloration of stems, buds, leaves and blossoms of rhododendrons planted in harmony with Japanese maples, clambering vines of clematis and carpets of ground covers. The growing operation of Frank and partner Greg Kesterson, Smuggler's Cove Rhododendrons, will be shared with tour goers, showcasing field production, Frank's hybrid test gardens and the propagation house.

Nearby, Bill Stipe's Glynneden Gardens will host a tour of Bill's collection of his own hybrids, planted among landscapes of big leaf rhododendrons nestled under a canopy of fir trees. Bill's growing fields exhibit his love for rhododendrons while allowing gardeners to shop for plants for their home landscapes.

Jim Ramsey's garden neighbors Glynneden and is a fine example of dwarf rhododendrons planted on a western bluff of the island. Additionally, Jim's collection of elepidotes, interplanted with drifts of daffodils under towering fir trees, line the drive to the main garden.

Meerkerk Rhododendron Gardens, celebrating its twentieth anniversary of Ann Meerkerk's generous bequest to the Seattle Rhododendron Society, welcomes rhododendron enthusiasts to enjoy the peaceful woodland gardens. Ten acres of display and educational gardens feature the Hybrid Test Garden, planted with over 600 hybrids from around the world. The Meerkerk's original "Secret Garden" is a living tapestry of magnolias, tree-form rhododendrons, azaleas, maple and cherry trees surrounded by ground covers. Nearby, the Asian Garden of species rhododendrons grown by Warren Berg is coming of age, and many will exhibit blossoms for the first time. Fine specimens of Rhododendron pachysanthum , R. hodgsonii , R. rex , and R. fulgens are among the 300 species living here. Grown with mature species collected by Max and Ann Meerkerk in the 1960s, the Meerkerk Asian Garden is a work of progress not to be missed. The 10-acre gardens is surrounded by a 43-acre woodland preserve, with nature trails throughout.

Meerkerk Gardens will be introducing several Meerkerk hybrid rhododendrons for the 1999 convention. The Meerkerk nursery is growing on 'Meerkerk Magic', 'Whidbey Island', 'Mary's Favorite' and 'Maroon Bells', propagated from the original Meerkerk collection.

The day of garden sightseeing will be topped off by a salmon banquet at Whidbey Island's M Bar C Ranch. This small scaled western town is set among Whidbey's rolling hills and promises to be a spectacular finish to an inspiring day.

Join us for the 1999 convention, and see how we are growing!