Although there are a few blooms left here and there (look above eye level along the path), most of the blossoms in the Rhododendron State Park grove are past and gone. A number of the dropped flowers can now be seen on the ground.
It seems that the warm temperatures and dry conditions may have sped up an already early bloom this year. Is this a trend (it was a bit early last year as well)? Two years in a row is not the least bit conclusive in my book, but it certainly bears observing.
I have included several photos of leaf damage that commonly occurs in the grove, although there is one that is conspicuously absent this year (perhaps because of the current dry spell) that I have seen in the past-a roundish white fleshy growth on the end of a new leaf that is most likely a gall (formed usually when an insect lays an egg on the plant and causes a sort of deformity through hormonal changes-as it turns out, most plants play host to such a thing, and only a few really suffer for it).
As usual, I seem to be digressing – the damage shown today is from three different sources: mechanical damage from too much brushing against, mechanical damage from loss of juices likely caused by an insect, and curling of the new leafy growth likely from a lack of moisture. Since leaves are so numerous, this also means that they are expendable. Leaves, as you may know, tend to come and go a bit, even on evergreens. It is nothing to worry about.
Even with the dry conditions, the grove tends to be a buggy place, so be prepared-it seems to be deer flies this week-a hat is good.
Until next time,
Monadnock State Park Staff