Perhaps some of you are wondering about the conditions at Rhododendron State Park. The hybridized and “improved” rhododendron bushes that can be seen in landscaped plantings are in full bloom in southwestern NH, but they are all very different from the rhododendron species found at the park in Fitzwilliam. It is a native plant – Rhododendron maximus. It is not a result of any human gardening leftovers. Everything you see occurred naturally except for the trails and bridges that give you access to the grove.
Rhododendron maximus evolved to live in the shade. It will bloom without as much sunlight as other rhododendrons need (ironically, you will find more blooms at the bridge located near the “back” of the trail where there is a sunny spot – also look for “sunburnt” foliage there – too much sun for a plant that does well enough in the shade) but as it is not hybridized or “improved”, it will not always put on such a fully magnificent show during bloom as you might see in human built gardens. There have been quite a few years that the overall bloom is great, but there have also been a few years when you wouldn’t have seen much at all. Fortunately for us, this year (although not a “banner” year) the potential for a good show is there.
It is normal for full bloom to begin in early July and reach “peak” during the middle of the month. You may see some flowers out in August – this is also normal – although many flowering plants have a “bloom season”, there are always early and late flowers present-this is a strategy that some plants evolved to increase survival rates-of course the process is not that simple, but it does work.
I have included a few pictures taken recently to show the difference between the kinds of new buds you will see this week in the grove, and one left over from last year.
Although the weather has been cold and wet of late (there may be a few puddles here or there but nothing too deep), it seems as if June has now finally arrived – that means lots of biting insects, so come prepared.
Until next week,