Rhododendron State Park – July 18, 2011
Recognized as a National Natural Landmark, Rhododendron State Park is home to the largest grove of Rhododendron Maximum wildflowers in northern New England. Affectionately nicknamed “rhodies”, the wild rhododendrons are considered rare in New England, but somehow thrive living here at the northern most limit of their environmental range. The grove sits on a dirt road just behind the historic ‘Old Patch Place’ farmhouse, and exploring the park is a loop of easy trails and wooden boardwalks that wind their way back through the thick shrubs.
Timing my visit with the peak summer bloom I made my way to Rhododendron State Park on a wet and rainy afternoon. Despite the weather I grabbed my raincoat and found the Rhododendron Loop Trail standing out between two tall granite columns. Heading towards the grove it wasn’t long before the clusters of bright white rhodies started popping up along the trail.
The further I walked along the path the closer the shrubs grew in around me until they had formed a complete tunnel over the trail. By ducking in and out of the canopy-covered paths the grove managed to keep my camera and me fairly dry from the afternoon rain showers.
Just as I got near the middle of the grove the trail changed from a dirt path and rose to meet a wooden boardwalk suspended straight through the most concentrated section of the rhododendron bushes. Finding my way down the thickly covered boardwalk I began to feel like I had wandered into an exotic jungle instead of the woods of New Hampshire.
I was completely surrounded by the giant green shrubs and here in the middle of the grove the blooming white flowers were literally everywhere. When I stopped along the boardwalk to pay closer attention I could hear and see bees buzzing from flower to flower. Moving off the wooden walkway I followed the trail and dipped back under a thick canopy before arriving back at the parking area.
After reaching their peak around July 18 2011 the rhododendron blooms are now winding down for the season. However, being New Hampshire’s one and only dedicated Botanical Park, a visit to Rhododendron State Park won’t disappoint no matter what time of season. As we make our way into late summer, and the rhododendrons begin fall to the ground, Indian pipe and wooden asters will start their blooms continuing the colorful show at Rhododendron State Park.