Public Gardens

A-LIST-May 2013
By Joe Hebert
Photograph by William Cullina


01 Arboretum at Fort Williams Park
Cape Elizabeth
The Arboretum at Fort Williams Park is an ongoing community project that, once completed, will include 14 individual and unique landscapes around the perimeter of the park. Connected by a trail system, they are part of a larger effort by the Fort Williams Foundation to provide greater recreational and educational opportunities to the community. The park itself is open 365 days a year and often hosts picnics, concerts, and other community events.

02 Beatrix Farrand Garden
College of the Atlantic | Bar Harbor
Completed in 1929, this garden sits just behind College of the Atlantic’s Kaelber Hall. Rock-walled rooms, hedges, and stairs mimic the design of one of the historic estates that helps to make up the campus. Students often take advantage of the spot to study and relax against the backdrop of Frenchman’s Bay.

03 Celia Thaxter’s Garden
Isles of Shoals
Cultivated and curated by poet Celia Thaxter (1835-1894), this wildflower garden lies on Appledore Island, a short boat trip from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Open to the public June through August, the garden first became famous upon the release of her best-known book, An Island Garden. The vivid landscape—full of bright peonies and stunning views of Babb’s Rock—also served as inspiration for Impressionist artist Childe Hassam.

04 Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens
It took 16 years of planning, planting, and building before the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens opened to the public in June 2007. Set on 128 acres and boasting 3,600 feet of shorefront, the Boothbay gardens are open during every season. The gardens also feature hiking trails—which you can snowshoe or Nordic ski during the winter months—and sculptural pieces. Kids especially enjoy the Fairy House Village and the Bibby and Harold Alfond Children’s Garden.

05 Mount Desert Land + Garden Preserve
Northeast Harbor
This sanctuary offers two separate, unique gardens: the Thuya Garden and Lodge, and the Asticou Azalea Garden. The Thuya Garden and Lodge are situated upon the former estate of Joseph H. Curtis, and include a mixture of colorful annuals and perennials. Asticou encompasses the pond of the same name, with an array of flowers—everything from a cherry tree and weeping hemlock to Japanese iris and azaleas.

06 Merryspring Nature Center
Less colorful than Maine’s flower gardens, but no less beautiful, is Camden’s Merryspring Nature Center. The Center’s 66 acres include meadows, trails for hiking, an arboretum, hills for cross-country skiing, and an educational center full of gardening resources. Visitors can enjoy the gardens while collecting seeds or even helping with deadheading and weeding.


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