Charles Dexter Owen Jr.
The Owen garden holds one of three major collections of Dexter Hybrid Rhododendrons. Charles Owen Dexter was a retired textile manufacturer in Sandwich, Massachusetts on an estate called Shawme Farm. In the early 1920s, he collected rhododendron, mountain laurel, azaleas, and other natives from North Carolina, near Asheville. To these he added Asian rhododendrons and began hybridizing and growing rhododendrons. In 1927, his brother-in-law and nephew moved to Asheville as part of the relocation of the Beacon Manufacturing Company from Massachusetts. Their textile business continued in Swannanoa, NC until 1970 when it was sold.
The present owner's father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Dexter Owen, built this Asheville home and began the gardens by bringing in train car loads of Dexter rhododendrons from Shawme Farm in Massachusetts. Charles Dexter Owen was the nephew of Charles Owen Dexter. The current owners, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Dexter Owen Jr. have enhanced the gardens with additional Dexters, azaleas, and many other plants, including North Carolina natives.
The other two major collections of Dexter Hybrids are Heritage Plantation, Sandwich, MA, which was originally Dexter's Shawme Farm, and Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA, an estate of Pierre du Pont.
The Owen garden was on tour as part of the 2012 joint ARS/ASA Convention in Asheville.