Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

A return to road warrior’s botanical garden sites included a relative youngster in that garden realm (started in the late 1990s)—the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay, Maine, weighing in at 250 acres of donated land and tons of plant and artistic focus. This is Maine’s first and only botanical garden. What a treasure! For adults or kids, the gardens were a unique experience. This waterfront site offers so many garden “rooms” and themes from the happy places like the Children’s Garden, Lerner Garden of the Five Senses and the Fairy House Village to the more serene Meditation Garden, waterfalls and Haney Hillside Garden trails. And who knew? We stumbled across The Rhododendron Garden as well. October was unseasonably warm, so many dahlias and succession fall plantings were in spectacular bloom. The Back River (salt water) which runs adjacent to the site was the first-time spotting of lobster pots as we found out from retired Maine patrons, who just happened to be from Seattle. 

The essence of Maine was on full display, very similar to our coastal gardens’ conifers, mosses, lichens and ferns, but with the impressive granite boulder stonework, antique stone walls, 

sculptural artwork and those ‘Guardians of the Seeds’ troll sculptures. The 5 trolls (and the secrets that come with them) are a majestic sight to see as they are interspersed throughout. These gardens have such potential with many undeveloped acres. I discovered an Iseli-tagged dwarf conifer just being planted—sort of a NW connection that makes you realize how diverse and totally connected we are through plants. Aside from maybe the BBG, I think these are the first botanical gardens visited that were entirely volunteer-driven—from conception, financing, etc. The group leaders offered up their own homes for collateral to purchase the first 120 acres that had been slated for a home subdivision. Quite a vision! If you build it, they will come…. 

As long as the trip’s focus was on “leaf-peeping” and history, my site choices of the botanical gardens and NY’s Hyde Park hit both targets. The garden splendor in FDR’s Hyde Park, complete with greenhouse, sculptures and beautiful fall color valley views, will be reserved for December’s Bramble. And Longfellow’s garden was nothing to sneeze at either. Stay tuned.

Courtesy of M.P., Redmond Garden Club Member