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Meerkerk Rhododendron Gardens: Test Garden for Contemporary Rhododendron Hybrids

Articles: Meerkerk Rhododendron Gardens: Test Garden for Contemporary Rhododendron Hybrids

A portion of the Meerkerk Hybrid Test Garden, carved from the native Douglas-fir woodland. Photograph courtesy Meerkerk Rhodododendron Gardens

It is the tenth of April, a sunny day abuzz with bees and people pollinating rhododendrons. Meerkerk Rhododendron Gardens' Hybrid Test Garden is a rainbow of blossoms whose pot of gold is gilded anthers. Once only a dream, the circular labyrinth is now alive with color!

Ann and Max Meerkerk, the garden's founders, arrived on Whidbey Island over forty years ago, deeply involved with breeding-of a different sort. Max was president of the International Weimaraner Association, which was responsible for bringing the true bloodline of these dogs from Germany to the United States. Upon visiting a friend on Whidbey, they became enchanted with the island and purchased the initial thirteen acres of forested land. With eighty-eight canines in tow, they moved to Whidbey Island to engage in the final stage of their life journey.

Inspired by the stands of native Pacific rhododendron (Rhododendron macrophyllum), and Max's fondness for the rhododendron gardens at the Rothschild...

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