A Lively Experiment

Notes on collections at the RIHS

Rhode Island’s First Flowering

With the flooding rains and the record high temperatures this spring, Rhode Island has gone into early bloom.

Rhode Island’s state flower is the Violet (viola sororia) and was selected by the public school children of the state on Arbor Day of May 1897. But never one to run with the crowd, as with ratifing the U.S. Constitution, Rhode Island was the last state in the union to officially adopt a state flower, which it finally did in March of 1968.

By accident or design, the lawn of the John Brown House lawn has a yearly display of these tiny purple gems to herald the first flush of spring in the Capitol City. Violets are native to Rhode Island and grow wild north of Washington County.

Other glorious flowers native to the Rhode Island forests are the Rhododendron and its close cousin the Azalea. Usually not in full bloom until July, several of these local beauties are rushing the season—so keep your eyes peeled and consider a walk on the Long Pond Woods Trail in the Long and Ell Ponds Natural Area to see it’s giant rhododendron colony.
Selected flower resources:
—Phoebe Bean, Printed Collections Librarian

2 comments on “Rhode Island’s First Flowering

  1. Pingback: Relocating to Rhode Island From New York?

  2. Jeffrey Fiedler
    20 June 2010

    MATUNUCK, RI – Dana Millar of Dana Designs, West Kingston, RI, the steward of the gardens at the historic Theatre By The Sea, will conduct garden tours on select Saturday mornings during the 2010 Summer Season.

    Originally designed in 1988 by landscape designer Louis Raymond and with the 2010 annuals display designed and generously donated by Highland Farm in South Kingstown, RI, the abundant gardens at Theatre By The Sea have been meticulously maintained by Dana Designs for the past two years.

    Cooled by breezes from Block Island Sound, the lush seaside gardens embrace the historic theatre complex from the front porch and gazebo area, down the unique 240 foot long arbor walk, to the rolling lawns surrounding the restaurant. Over 300 varieties of perennials, grasses, shrubs and climbing plants offer a magical, ever-changing environment for flower lovers of all ages.

    Complimentary garden tours, which will last approximately 40 minutes, will be conducted rain or shine beginning at 10:00 am on Saturday, June 19, Saturday, July 10, Saturday, July 31, and Saturday, August 21, 2010. Each week the tour will examine a new topic in the world of gardening. Those wishing to attend multiple tours are encouraged. Participants should meet in the newly redesigned gazebo area adjacent to the theatre on the grounds at Theatre By The Sea located at 364 Cards Pond Road, Matunuck, RI.

    For questions or to reserve a spot please call (401) 782-3800 x13.


    Prior to creating Dana Designs, Mr. Millar spent many years in the life insurance and financial planning business. People have often asked how he could make such a transition. In an attempt to explain his career choice, Mr. Millar would say “I traded a relationship with ‘people, planning and paperwork’ for ‘people, planning and plants.’ In fact, his first Dana Designs customer was a former financial client!


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This entry was posted on 28 April 2010 by in Collection Notes.

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