The yellow-flowered “Magnolia Elizabeth” (pictured above) was planted by Welles and Molly Moore 21 years ago. The tree, the result of a breeding program to create a yellow-flowered variety, at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, began in 1953. The garden center from which they purchased the tree in New Hampshire did not want to sell it to them because it was to be planted in Maine. It was felt that the environment here would not support this hybrid, which apparently is a bit fussy about where it will grow. Not to be deterred, Welles and Molly prevailed and, as you can see, the tree has done very well. “All Brits are gardeners,” Molly says.
At almost the same time as the glorious magnolia was planted here in Maine, Molly lost her vision during a trip to visit English gardens in the U.K. Somehow she contracted a severe meningitis resulting in hospitalization and coma, a combination from which only 50% of victims live.
Molly said she knew, when she learned of the diagnosis, that she would lose her vision, if she survived. It’s difficult to imagine the impact of such a revelation, but Molly persevered. She was 66 at the time.
Molly was born in Bristol, England, 118 miles west of London. She studied nutrition and food service and worked a bit in the U.K. until she decided to cross the pond and take a job with the Massachusetts Restaurant Association, eventually becoming the director of merchandising and standards for Vincent Wilbur, one of the top eight food service companies in the U.S, with clients like Liberty Mutual and Northeastern University. The company produced 3,000 lunches a day for Liberty Mutual alone. Eventually Molly would move on to start her own food service business, “Molly Rudall Company.”
For much of her life Molly wanted to have her own traditional English tea room serving scones, sandwiches and, of course, tea. Molly made her own private label strawberry jam and created “Krumps Tea Room.” Realtor Phyllis Cook helped find a location on McKown Street in the Harbor which operated from 1992 until closing in 1999. Four months after closing Krumps, Molly lost her vision.
With gardening adventures still of prime interest, Welles and Molly became very active in the early years of Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. They joined other local supporters, in an effort to create the Garden of Five Senses, which is still a favorite area for visitors of all ages and dispositions. For Welles and Molly the Gardens remain a big part of their lives. They remain active and enthusiastic supporters, volunteering regularly.
*A short footnote. It is absolutely remarkable to observe Molly's spirit, and Welles's support. I could not imagine her and his experience. I said to her, “If it were me, the loss of sight would have curled me up in a corner.”
Molly's response: “That's not who I am.” Indeed!