Secret Garden Tour and Market this Saturday June 15, 2024 in Lake Forest Park Town Center

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Story and Photos by Sally Yamasaki

Do you know what our state flower is in Washington State? 

“In 1892, before they had the right to vote, Washington women selected the coast rhododendron as the state flower. They wanted an official flower to enter in a floral exhibit at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago.” (Washington State Legislature State Symbols).

Rhododendron macrophyllum (meaning rose tree with large leaves), more commonly known as the Pacific rhododendron or the coast rhododendron, is the Washington State flower.

Every year at the Lake Forest Park Secret Gardens, there are wonderful booths to visit at the Garden Market which will be located on the lower level of Lake Forest Park Town Center. Chimacum Woods is always a destination place to visit amongst Market attendees.

Chimacum Woods Owners, Bob Zimmerman and Beth Orling

When you visit Chimacum Woods’ booth you realize this is not just a place to purchase your ordinary rhododendron. Owners Bob Zimmerman and Beth Orling have a real passion for the plants, many of which they have nurtured from seed.

“Most of our rhododendrons began as seeds that were meticulously hand-collected from species “parents” in their native habitats,” according to Beth.

After 5 years of tending the plants, they are transplanted into two-gallon pots. Meaning that each plant you purchase this year has been nurtured since at least since 2019!

Zimmerman’s affinity for Rhododendrons began over 45 years ago enjoying all types of rhodies but specifically species rhododendrons. 

Chimacum Woods Species Rhododendron: Fortunei (aka., Lushan)

What is a species rhododendron? 

Most of the rhodies we have in our gardens are not species but are hybrids. They are the outcome of crossbreeding to try and get a certain look, as an example, flower color, size of blossom, leaf texture. In contrast, species rhododendrons are native plants. Our state flower rhododendron macrophyllum is an example of a species rhododendron.

Zimmerman, noting that native rhododendron habitats are dwindling around the world, sees their work at Chimacum Woods propagating and preserving species rhododendron as preserving endangered species for future generations as well as to show how they can enhance gardens and bring enjoyment to their customers.

Secret Gardens of Lake Forest Park Garden Tour and Market
This Saturday, June 15, 2024

  • For more information about the Secret Gardens of Lake Forest Park Garden Tour, click here.
  • To purchase your tickets click here.


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