Hot and dry seems to have been the general condition for the month of June this year. Although there is evidence of a slight amount of rainfall at the grove (most likely it came and went in the form of a sudden quick shower), even the usually wet areas are dryer than “normal”. As shown in the included photos (all taken yesterday-6/30), a wide variety of bud and flower conditions can be seen here at Rhododendron State Park. Only two or three flowers are open in the entire grove, and to see those you will need to travel out to the bridge on the Rhododendron Loop trail just about halfway through.
Why are these blooming when nothing else is out? Perhaps because of the extra amount of sunlight this area gets. I have included a photo of yellowish looking leaves (chlorosis) to show what too much sun can do to a plant that normally grows and blooms quite well in shaded conditions. Ironically, extra light also can promote flower formation. Is this what is happening here? It sure seems so, but plants can be so mysterious…
In any case, the hot dry weather we are in coupled with the mild winters we have seen recently may or may not have anything to do with this year’s “early” bloom time. I still feel somewhat safe in my opinion that the bloom will be a few days early this year, but keep “tuned” for more updates.
Mid-July is still a good time for “peak” bloom, even with a few early flowers here and there, and if we get some cool rainy weather in July (“Ha!” he says) it may go on a bit longer. Not likely, but it has certainly happened before.
Even in the driest of weather, the biting insects at the grove can be quite active, so come prepared.
The “mystery” tree that I mentioned a few weeks back is Nyssa sylvatica a.k.a. Blackgum a.k.a.Tupelo. Generally a long-lived tree, but becoming less and less common mainly due to habitat destruction, but does climate change also play a role? Probably.
Until next week,