Rhododendron Park sits on 13 acres of land in the city of 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 here 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. They soon became known nationally. Every year at Easter the nursery would ship large numbers of Pink Pearl rhododendrons east. Pearce created at least three new hybrids, best known of which are Pinky Pearce (azalea), Pearce’s Golden Jubilee and Pearce’s American Beauty (rhodies), specimens of which are in the park.
Pearce died in 1960 and the property became idle and was unused for approximately ten 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. This is referred to as the New Garden to differentiate from the Old Garden where the Pearce plants are located. For many years, Timmons offered guided tours each spring.
In 2001, the newly incorporated City of Kenmore took over Rhododendron Park from King County. In 2009 renovation improved parking, renewed the picnic shelter and restrooms, and added a playground. A new driveway would have destroyed hundreds of the park’s namesake plants. Instead of allowing this to happen, Warren Timmons, along with members of a local rhododendron chapter, members of Inglemoor High School’s Key Club, plus some local Boy Scouts, transplanted around 300 of the flowering plants. One scout working for his eagle scout merit badge, along with his volunteering family and friends, repositioned many of these plants under the supervision of Warren Timmons. The park offers one of the largest public collections of hybrid rhododendrons in the Northwest.