Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society
History Quarterly Digital Archives

Source: April 1938 Volume 1 Number 3, Page 20

Dogwood at Valley Forge

Mary Gurney Croasdale

Page 20

When, thirty-six years ago, the State "took over" Valley Forge Park, the dogwood was already growing. One old tree, opposite the Varnum Quarters, on the Stephens place, is ninety years old. At the time of Washington's encampment, the dogwood was there. White pine and hemlock, and tulip trees and black and white oak were native. when, in 1902 a park road was cut through, so many dogwood trees were found it was decided to clear away all other growth and make a feature of these trees. This is now the beautiful "dogwood grove" visited by so many people.

William H. Doyle, Sr. of Berwyn was employed at that time to clear out the undergrowth. Under his care the little dogwood trees were saved and transplanted along all the newly made drives and out in the open places. He massed laurel and rhododendron because they were also native plants and the little oaks were saved and replanted. Mr. Doyle's suggestions were respected and approved by the park Commission and he was entrusted with the work. From 1902 through 1905 that work went on. Mr. Doyle did, in his lifetime many good and generous things. He had imagination, thinking always of trees as living creatures, never to be abused. We can realize now what pleasure it was for him to plan and work for all the future beauty along those meadows and drives.

The work goes on under skilled management. There are now about 6,000 "specimen" dogwood trees. These are the trees standing in the open places, and there are 50,000 growing in the woods.

The first red dogwood was developed by Thomas Meehan more than fifty years ago. He found, growing along the Wissahickon, a "sport"-- a tree with white blossoms and one branch with red. Mr. Moehan marked the tree and waited a year. When the tree bloomed that way again, he "budded" it with great care. Hence the red dogwood. There is much of history that has no concern with wars.

This year one hundred and fifty white dogwood trees will be planted in "the grove" and there will be twenty-five more red ones there. The trees at Valley Forge are all native ones. They grow and prosper there. They need however all the care that can be given them. We may well be grateful for the vision and forethought that has worked through the years to keep for us all a place of such beauty as Valley Forge in dogwood time.


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