Southern New Hampshire Life

Southern New Hampshire Blog by Steve Russo, Realtor


Southern New Hampshire Life - Southern New Hampshire Blog by Steve Russo, Realtor

The 2013 Lilac Festival in Portsmouth

The 2013 Lilac Festival at the Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion will be on Saturday May 25th from 10AM to 3PM.  New Hampshire author Tracy Kane will enchant young children with tales of fairy houses at 11.  There will also be craft activities and other events for children. Activities for adults include lectures by lilac experts, a silent auction, tours of the Mansion, and sales of many lilac varieties, including some plants descended from the Mansion’s own 250 year old lilacs.  Admission to the Lilac Festival is free.

Benning Wentworth, who built what is now called the Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion, was the first governor of New Hampshire.  He was a wealthy merchant, and was the first to import lilacs to North America from Europe around 1750.

The Mansion, a state historic site, is located at 375 Little Harbor Road in Portsmouth.  It is a rambling 40-room house overlooking Portsmouth’s Little Harbor, and is considered an outstanding example of a colonial-era home.  This historic home will be open to the public a few days per week from May 21st through October 8th this year; for more information about the Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion and admission times, see the Mansion’s website and the NH State Park’s site.

Rhododendron State Park

Located in Fitzwilliam, Rhododendron State Park encompasses over 2,700 acres of native plants, with a 16-acre stand of native rhododendrons (Rhododendron maximum), the largest grouping in northern New England.  The grove was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1982.  The park is also home to wild mountain laurels, heathers, mayflowers, wintergreens, blueberries, and cranberries, all growing under the shade of densely-packed deciduous and evergreen trees.  There are several short hiking trails; the main trail is wheelchair accessible; one trail leads to the top of Little Monadnock Mountain, which is within the park.  Click here for trail maps. 

The wild rhododendrons are usually at their peak in mid-July; check the state park’s bloom report by clicking here.  Please do not expect to see masses of flowers, the way you might see them in a man-made garden; these plants are wild, and receive no fertilizer, cultivation, etc., so blooms may be scarce even in their peak season.  But you will be seeing plants as the first settlers might have found them hundreds of years ago, surrounded by native flora and fauna. Click here for some tips on the best way to experience the park.

For a short video showing the park in bloom, click here.

The area was originally given to the Appalachian Mountain Club in 1903 as an area to be preserved in its natural state; it was turned into a state park in 1946.  A short history of the park is available online.  The park is easily accessible from Rhododendron Road off State Route 119 between Fitzwilliam and Richmond.

Fuller Gardens

New Hampshire is fortunate to be the home of Fuller Gardens, one of the few examples of a formal estate garden in New England.  Fuller Gardens was originally designed as part of the summer estate of Massachusetts’ Governor Alvan Fuller’s family in the 1920’s and 30’s.  It was developed by noted landscape gardener Arthur Shurtleff, the Olmstead Brothers of Boston, and Cherry Hill Nurseries.  It abounds in over 120 different varieties of roses, whose 1,700 plants bloom from early June through October.  Mature tree peonies, a Japanese garden, a koi pond, sculpted hedges, a hosta garden, and a tropical plant conservatory make this an oasis of horticulture near New Hampshire’s seacoast.  Its distinctiveness makes it a frequent locale for wedding receptions, social events, etc.

Be sure to visit the well-stocked gift shop when you go; Fuller Gardens, a nonprofit organization, is dependent on admission fees, sales from the gift shop, and donations to carry on its operation.  Its hours are 10AM – 5:30PM daily from mid-May through mid-October.  It is located at 10 Willow Avenue, near the intersection of routes 111 and 1-A in North Hampton.  More information may be found on its website.

The Lilac Festival in Portsmouth

The annual Lilac Festival at the Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion will be on Saturday, May 26 from 10AM to 3PM this year. For children, there will be arts and craft activities, an alpaca petting zoo, a treasure hunt, and more. Activities for adults include lectures by lilac experts, a silent auction, tours of the Mansion, and sales of many lilac varieties, including some plants descended from the Mansion’s own 250 year old lilacs.  Admission to the Lilac Festival is free.

Benning Wentworth, who built what is now called the Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion, was the first governor of New Hampshire.  He was a wealthy merchant, and was the first to import lilacs to North America from Europe around 1750.

The Mansion, a state historic site, is located at 375 Little Harbor Road in Portsmouth.  It is a rambling 40-room house overlooking Portsmouth’s Little Harbor, and is considered an outstanding example of a colonial-era home.  For more information about the house and hours of admission, see the Mansion’s website and the NH State Park’s site.