New England Wild Flower Society Horticulture Staff and Volunteers work on Appalachian Mountain Club's Joe Dodge Lodge garden in White Mountains.
New England Wild Flower Society’s horticulture staff and volunteers arrived at Appalachian Mountain Club’s Joe Dodge Lodge in Gorham, NH, on Tuesday, June 2, for three days of repair and maintenance work on the native plant gardens at the Lodge and Trading Post as they do each year. These gardens were designed in 1999 by Cheryl Lowe, who was at that time Horticulture Director at New England Wild Flower Society’s Garden in the Woods in Framingham, MA. Ms. Gray Wexelblat, volunteer naturalist with the Appalachian Mountain Club, was the catalyst for the gardens, which were installed in 1999. Gray returned to the project in 2004, when she was finishing her Certificate in Native Plant Studies with New England Wild Flower Society. Her project was to document the native plant gardens at the Lodge and Trading Post after five years of growth. Since all plants used in these gardens are native to the Northeast United States, these gardens offer fine examples of sustainability, i.e. less watering and maintenance are required to keep them in excellent condition.
These gardens are used for many purposes. First, they are a beautiful entry feature for these two buildings. Second, as native plant gardens, they feed and shelter birds and insects. The gardens are also used in programming. Each year, native plant walks and workshops are given at the Lodge, often by Garden in the Woods’ Botanic Garden Director, Scott LaFleur, including two upcoming talks, scheduled for August 23 and 24.
The 2009 crew from New England Wild Flower Society included Scott LaFleur, Kristin DeSouza, Scott Getz, Nate McCullen, Andrew Palinski, and volunteers Gray Wexelblat and her husband Paul.
The AMC generously housed the staff and volunteers in the lodge and provided meals. Gray Wexelblat, a 20-year naturalist and veteran of hiking the White Mountains, also led a hike to help interns Getz and McCullen discover many native plants in their natural habitats. The star of the show was the painted trillium, Trillium undulatum, growing in a carpet of Chamaepericlymenum canadense (formerly Cornus canadensis), bunchberry dogwood. There really is no better designer than Mother Nature. The trip concluded with a drive to the top of Mt. Washington, which involves traveling through several unique plant community zones; northern hardwood forest, spruce fir forest, balsam fir forest, and a krummholz. At three to four-thousand feet, the trees are small and the views are big! Finally to the peak and alpine zone, home of Potentilla robbinsiana (dwarf cinquefoil), Rhododendron lapponicum (Lapland rosebay), and the earliest bloomer of all Diapensia lapponica (Diapensia). It was truly an incredible experience for everyone.
This great partnership of the Appalachian Mountain Club and New England Wild Flower Society benefits not only the plants, but also the people who enjoy them from around the world.