Magical Meerkerk

Posted in Feature, Festivals, Gardens, More Stories, Nature, Spotlight

Whidbey Life Magazine Contributor
May 4, 2016

“I saw a fairy in the popcorn tree,” my granddaughter told me excitedly as she pointed to a fluffy white and pink rhododendron tree. A bit later, she saw a gnome duck under an old tree stump.

“I see them!” I replied. And, I could! Meerkerk Gardens, magic spoken here!

Gnome Home (photo by Linda Russell)

Gnome Home (photo by Linda Russell)

Walking through the Gardens with a child is an opportunity to step back, take a breath and appreciate nature from a different perspective. Children grow up with fairy tales, forests and hazy woodland paths waiting to be explored. As adults, we often forget this world. Meerkerk Gardens invites us to explore this magical world again through a child’s eyes. The paths are green and lovely, the flowers are dazzling and tree stumps invite exploration. With a little imagination, you really can see fairies flitting among giant rhododendron blossoms or spy an occasional gnome scurrying into his home beneath an old, moss-covered tree stump. Few things are as magical as a woodland forest – especially one punctuated with enormous orange, pink, red and purple blossoms. Invite a child to visit Meerkerk Gardens with you, and you will rediscover magic.

My granddaughter's pop corn tree (photo by Linda Russell)

My granddaughter’s pop corn tree (photo by Linda Russell)

Any visit to the garden is magical for adults and children. In recognition of that, for instance, every spring legions of children dressed in fairy wings descend on Meerkerk for Fairy Making Magic and storytelling. This year’s event, held on April 23, was no exception. “It’s an exciting time,” Kathryn Hurtley, Garden Executive Director, says. “I love watching children create fairy wings from a magnolia leaf skeleton! Making fairies is just one of the ways we hope to pass our love for nature on to the next generation.” It must be working because every spring more aspiring fairy makers come to the Garden.

If you missed the Fairy Making Magic, you haven’t lost out. For example, Meerkerk’s annual Mother’s Day Concert on May 8th, from noon to 4:00 p.m., offers another opportunity to introduce your children to the magic of Meerkerk. Harper Tasche, who reminds me of a leprechaun or a Celtic sprite, will delight visitors again with his harp and dulcimer music. Garden volunteers will sell pies from Whidbey Pies, and best of all, children under 16 are free. So bring a picnic, a blanket and your imagination and prepare to experience the magic of  Meerkerk Gardens!

Woodland path (photo by Linda Russell)

Woodland path (photo by Linda Russell)

Linda Russell is a transplanted Texan who has lived happily on Whidbey Island for 15 years. In a previous life, she taught English, Creative Writing and Theater Arts. She has published articles in professional journals and has won first and second places in Chris Spencer’s Short Story Smash contest.


CLICK HERE to read more WLM stories and blogsHave a great story idea? Let us know at

WLM stories and blogs are copyrighted and all rights are reserved. Linking is permitted. To request permission to use or reprint content from this site, email

Leave a Reply