JARS v42n1 - New Maine Chapter

New Maine Chapter
Mark Stavish
Georgetown, Maine

On September 12th the new Maine Chapter held its first organizational meeting. Being in a northerly climate, some might think Maine an improbable location for rhododendrons, I doubt many people associate the two. Due to the influence of the Atlantic Ocean however, many coastal areas have a near ideal climate for rhododendrons.

Summer temperatures are decidedly pleasant, to people and plants, with very few, if any 90 degree days in most coastal areas. Because of this, rhododendrons go into winter without the summer induced heat stress so common in more southerly areas. Much of the immediate and near coast of Maine enjoys a relatively "warm" zone 6 climate. A few ideal areas are close to zone 7. Those areas are fortunate enough to have large expanses of salt water to the west and north. Many of the islands of Maine are in this category. During mild winters preferred areas will "only go down to zero", but can expect occasional severe winters, to -15° or worse. Winters are long however, and snow is often abundant, as it was during the winter of '86-'87 when 3-4 feet of the white stuff lingered for many weeks! Soil ranges from well drained sandy loams to clay to rock. In general, the Dexter varieties, R. yakushimanum and its hybrids, and the alpine types all thrive in coastal Maine, some H-3 types would be growable in the warmest locations and of course the older R. catawbiense hybrids would be fine even well inland. Maine can claim having at least two native species, the Swamp Azalea ( R. viscosum ) and the Rhodora ( R. canadense ).

Organizing the chapter were Barbara Weinz and Mark Stavish with assistance from Richard Brooks. Officers are: President, Mark Stavish; Vice President, Jon Norris; Treasurer, Donna Soule; Secretary, Ellena Riley.

Our initial group of 18 members live in a variety of climates, from zone 6b to 4b. Many of our members have moved to Maine from as far away as California and Kansas and several, including myself, are from New Jersey. The exceptional scenic beauty of Maine is a magnet drawing millions of visitors each year. Maine's unique coast of many finger like peninsulas jutting into the ocean offers vistas of mountains meeting the sea, tranquil saltwater coves, and winding country roads. These attractions, combined with a tempered maritime climate and warm friendly people will go a long way into making the new Maine chapter grow, be successful and one that can help the ARS as a whole.

Note from the Executive Secretary, Paula Cash: The Maine Chapter was accepted by the ARS Board of Directors, November 6, 1987 at the East Brunswick, New Jersey, Board of Directors Meeting.