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It's Meerkerk Magic

"Betty and James Tartas perform their signature music at the Meerkerk festival.Meerkerk gardens in peak bloomCelebrate the peak blooming season of Meerkerk Gardens rhododendron collection during the Meerkerk Magic Festival of Flowers and Music, today, April 22, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission is $5 per adult, with children admitted free. (There is a small crafts fee.) For information call 360-678-1912; or visit www.whidbey.net/meerkerk/gardens.html. The gardens are located south of Greenbank, off Hwy. 525. The Meerkerk Rhododendron Gardens in Greenbank are in peak bloom right now, and today there is a special occasion during which to see the spectacular flowers, view the awesome vistas and perhaps plant a fairy garden with the Greenbank Fairy Princess.It's Meerkerk Magic, a festival of flowers and music that has drawn appreciative crowds to the annual event over the years. The 53-acre woodland garden is in its spring glory, featuring thousands of rhododendrons amid towering firs and sweeps of daffodils perfuming the April air. Local musicians will perform all afternoon throughout the gardens in harmony with the flower world. From noon to 1 p.m., hear the music of Keith Allen Bowers, Artist Trust Award recipient and Whidbey Island performing artist. Bowers will play Celtic, Renaissance and medieval compositions from his new CD recording, Circle in the Meadow. The music includes Elizabeth lute pieces, acoustic Americana and new original music for fingerstyle guitar.Betty and James Tartas, a Pacific Northwest guitar/songwriter duo, take over from 1:30-4 p.m., presenting traditional folk tunes that display a respect for the sea and its traditions. Their original songs include historical ballads, reflective songs of love lost and found, humorous topical songs and sea chanties.The Greenbank Fairy Princess, playing hostess for Meerkerk Magic, will assist visitors (including wee ones) in granting special wishes and planting fairy gardens to take home. Flora-oriented craftmaking and storytelling will honor ancient traditions of plant life. An exciting plant treasure hunt will award successful venturers with fairy cakes and lemonade. (Kids will look for the Monkey Puzzle Tree, Diamond Bark Maple and other fun delights.) A special addition is the carnivorous plant man and his carnivorous plants. They'll be part of the plant treasure hunt and plants will be available for sale.Meerkerk Rhododendron Gardens is a nonprofit private garden open to the public. Its 43 acres of woodland preserve with nature trails surround the 10-acre display and educational gardens. Guided tours for groups of 10 (or more may be scheduled by calling at least two weeks in advance. The plant shop and nursery is open on weekends during spring offering an assortment of rhododendrons, companion plants and Meerkerk Garden gift items."

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