Rhododendron Park

6910 NE 170th Street

Rhododendron Park entrance, Courtesy City of Kenmore
Pearce’s original house, Courtesy Kenmore Heritage Society
"Charlie" Pearce in his garden, Kenmore, Courtesy Kenmore Heritage Society
Rhododendron Park, Kenmore, June 3, 2012, Photo by John Brew (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Amenities, Rhododendron Park, Courtesy City of Kenmore
Walkway to Sammamish River, Rhododendron Park, Courtesy City of Kenmore
Kenmore Senior Center, Rhododendron Park, September 21, 2020, Kenmore Heritage Society photo by Suzanne Greathouse
Hand-powered boat launch, Courtesy City of Kenmore

6910 NE 170th Street

Rhododendron Park sits on 13 acres of land in Kenmore and was once the home of rhododendron enthusiast Reginald A. “Charlie” Pearce. An Englishman who immigrated to the Pacific Northwest at the turn of the 20th century, Pearce became a Seattle clothier and Alaska equipment outfitter. He and his wife settled in Kenmore in 1920 and began cultivating rhododendrons as a hobby. The project soon turned into a commercial enterprise they called State Flower Nursery. The Wall Street Journal featured the couple in a 1932 article with pictures of some of their rhododendron and azalea plants, and rapidly brought them national notice. Pearce created at least three new hybrids, the Pinky Pearce (azalea), Pearce’s Golden Jubilee, and Pearce’s American Beauty (rhododendrons), specimens of which are in the park.

Pearce died in 1960 and the property became idle and was unused for approximately 10 years. In 1971, the nursery became a county park through Forward Thrust funding. A 1995 donation of many newer rhododendron and azalea hybrids make up a New Garden. The donors were Warren F. Timmons III and his wife Diane, who collected these plants while operating a small nursery. The New Garden is so-named to differentiate from the Old Garden where the Pearce plants are located.

In 2001, the newly incorporated City of Kenmore took over Rhododendron Park from King County. A renovation in 2009 improved parking, renewed the picnic shelter and restrooms, and added a playground. The park offers one of the largest public collections of hybrid rhododendrons in the Northwest. The park currently features two play areas, basketball court, picnic shelter, restrooms, large green space, and a walkway providing access to the Sammamish River.

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