Meerkerk Rhododendron Gardens in Greenbank, is a unique woodland garden and a major tourist attraction. Spring is the peak time to visit the gardens when hundreds of magnificent and varied rhododendrons and other spring flowers are in full bloom.
The ten acres of display gardens consist of cultivated and native plants beneath a second growth forested canopy of firs, hemlocks and cedar trees. The 43 acres of forest preserve contains over four miles of trails.
Meerkerk is also an outdoor classroom. Meerkerk teams with local schools to bring the children into the Gardens for a “Botany Adventure”. Botany Adventure is funded entirely by donations. Run by a team of dedicated volunteers, the funds are used for supplies and to provide bus transportation to the Gardens from the local schools. Adult education is also provided, such as propagation and pruning classes.
Many people may have heard the term “Water Wise”. This is a gardening concept referring to trees, shrubs, ground covers and flowers that are native to, or come from climate zones similar to, the Puget Sound. These are plants that flourish with a minimum of water and fertilizer to reduce the negative impact on the environment.
Meerkerk Gardens is located in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains, and gardeners carefully manage their water use. The water supply comes from two primary sources: From the Island’s sole source aquifer accessed by wells, and from rainwater collected in ponds. Since well water when used in excess becomes salty, the collection of fresh rain water has become vital to the gardens. A sophisticated water filtration and collection system has been put in place. The Rain Garden “processes” storm water runoff returning clean filtered water to the aquifer and fills a series of ponds which are used to irrigate the Gardens during the summer draught. With support from the Conservation District and Washington State University, Meerkirk has expanded the existing Rain Garden by 300 feet for a total of 500 feet in length, perhaps the largest in the State.
A key to the success of Meerkerk Gardens is landscaping with plants that thrive in Puget Sound’s rainy winters and Mediterranean type of summer and autumn climates.
Operations Manager Joan Bell invites everyone to visit this peaceful woodland garden at 3531 Meerkerk Lane off SR 525 at Resort Road in Greenbank. The Meerkerk website lists its calendar of events, provides horticultural growing tips, and their specialty rhododendron catalogue, or give them a call at 360-678-1912 or 360-222-0120