Letter from the President
There are sights that draw us to Maudslay in all months of the year, but perhaps in the winter months they call more clearly, as the dirty slush of city life have us craving the majesty of nature. With the freshly fallen snow, the Maudslay parking lot is jammed full of cars, and the trails show evidence of boots, fat-tire bikes, snowshoes, and cross-country skis, as well as dogs, deer, foxes and coyotes. Lots of creatures having fun in the snow.
But however beautiful the park is now, I am glad to know the days are getting longer; watching hawks balanced on the cold wind over the iconic black oak, or ice flows making their pilgrimage to the mouth of the Merrimack River, I admit to dreaming of Spring. I am a Lifetime Master Gardener, and the specimen plantings are my real draw to Maudslay, so I’d like to take this chance to look forward to their blooms.
The Moseley Estate gardeners chose perfect plantings for the climate of this beautiful land with its moisture from the Merrimack River. There are four types of rhododendrons to encounter when you visit Maudslay, and you can tour them all easily by traveling a well-trodden loop, taking the Pasture Trail (opposite the parking lot) down to the pond, then following the Main Road west along the river to the Main House before returning by the Well Walk through the formal gardens. Maps are available at park headquarters, or on our website if you’d like to take the virtual tour now and pretend that it is June.
As you arrive at the pond, in addition to the glorious azaleas and dogwoods blooming on its east bank, you are seeing the Rhododendron maximum or Rosebay Rhododendron which normally bloom late in the month of June. You will see this specimen in a number of other areas in the park. Moving west along the Merrimack to the property by Helen’s House and its beautiful river vista, you will find Rhododendron carolinianum or Carolina Rhododendron. These plants normally bloom in May and are a solid mass of pink between the trail and the Merrimack River. Continuing along the Main Road toward the Main House, you will come upon many plantings of Rhododendron catawbiense common name Catawba rhododendron. These stunning shrubs create beautifully walled passages of color as you move toward the Main House. And finally, located in the area around the formal gardens are the very special Dexter Hybrid Rhododendrons thought by some to be the finest rhododendrons for landscapes. Hybridized between 1925 and 1940, these shrubs adapt themselves beautifully to the harsh New England winters. Blooming in late May into June, we are very lucky to have many of them in Maudslay State Park.
As I write, it is twenty-one degrees in the park with a bright sun reflecting off of six inches of fresh powder, and there is plenty to celebrate and discover in our wonderful park. We are so blessed to have these rolling white fields and glittering pine branches to get us through the winter, but after a bracing stroll in the snow, I’ll allow myself a hot tea and thoughts of rhododendrons in June.
President, Friends of Maudslay