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New flowers and a festival celebrate 'Peak Bloom' at Meerkerk
"Kristi O'Donnell finds a good place for contemplation in Meerkerk's Meditation Garden.Jim Larsen / staff photosMeerkerk MagicMeerkerk Magic, a Festival of Flowers! takes place Saturday and Sunday, April 28-29, at Meerkerk Gardens. Enjoy the flowers, craft-making, fairy-garden planting, artisans, crafts, pies, hot soups and breads. Admission $5 for adults, $4 seniors, children free.Meerkerk Gardens is located off Highway 525 on Resort Road, just south of Greenbank. The Web site is at www.meeerkerkgardens.org or call 360-678-1912.Some phrases automatically send people scurrying into action.Thar she blows gets whale hunters excited.Semi-annual clearance sale sends shoppers flocking to Nordstrom.Peak blossom means it's time to dash to Meerkerk Gardens in Greenbank to catch the rhododendrons and myriad other flowers in their full spring glory.Right now is peak blossom at Meerkerk, a condition that will continue until mid-May.If you think you've already seen Meerkerk, thing again. At present thousands of tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and other bulb plants decorate the gardens with swatches of bright color. Towering magnolias planted 40 years ago sport dinner plate blossoms of varied colors. And the famous multi-colored rhododendrons are already popping out, some as low as your ankle and others soaring high overhead, ready to greet the peak blossom crowds.Kristi O'Donnell, Meerkerk manager, said it is the time to experience the feeling and the beauty that is here right now thanks to people of generosity and vision. The 10 acres of garden and 43 woodland acres off Resort Road are the product of countless donations in terms of plants, bulbs, seeds and volunteer hours.Each day some blossoms fall while others burst open. Millions opening daily, is how O'Donnell describes the gardens in spring. One shrub might have a thousand blossoms. It's just spellbinding, she said.O'Donnell doesn't want islanders to take the gardens for granted, or think they've already seen what they have to offer. The rhododendron count is up to 1,000 species native to areas throughout the world, and another 25,000 hybrids.People used to come on Mother's Day and that was it, O'Donnell said Thursday, surrounded by blossoms. But look what's going to be gone by Monday.This would be the perfect weekend, as the annual Meerkerk Magic, A Festival of Flowers, is planned. Bring the kids. They're free, while adult admission is only $5.Other special events this spring include the Purple Passion Rhodie Sale May 12, and Mother's Day Concert on the Lawn May 13.Or just stop by on a quiet weekday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. when admission is only $3. The flowers guarantee a celebration of life. "