The ultimate Maine garden

Note:  written in July 2012 and never posted.  If I ever find the photos, I’ll add them. ;(

Our route to Cushing takes us right past a sign for the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden, and this year everything aligned for us to make a visit.  As the brochure points out, most botanical gardens arise from a rich person’s bequest of an existing garden or are associated with a university, but not this one.  It was envisioned by passionate gardeners more than twenty years ago and is largely  staffed by volunteers.  But if that sounds like amateur hour, think again.

The perennial borders in full sun were magnificent – not because the plants were unusual – they’re not – but because of the sweeps of color and use of natives.  The lilies were particularly beautiful and so fragrant that the aroma should be wafting from these photos. [3633 n 3634]  These are ‘Golden Stargazer’ Orienpets.

The hillside garden offered miniature landscapes like these [3636] as it sloped gently down to the water.  Lots of lichen, bark, and rocks, quintessentially Maine.  This part of the garden is about the native landscape as much as about the individual plants.

But the outstanding feature was the use of sculpture.  This year’s theme is Feathers and Foliage, Celebrating Bird and Plant Interactions in Maine, and to that end they have placed sculptures everywhere.  (Maybe they do this every year? Another reason to return.) Some, like these stone faces and this gorgeous stone sofa, are permanent fixtures.  But the birds!  There was an owl in flight

a pair of crows

a marauding eagle,

and a nightjar that rocked gently on its metal stand.

This grasshopper only looks like a statue – he was perched on the fence surrounding the children’s garden.

This orb shows how scale makes such a difference in garden art.

So does this pinecone, which is stunning on its own and also repays a closer look.

Then there are the kinetic sculptures, like these birds in the frog pond.  The wind lifts and moves them.

My favorite was “Wind Orchid,” the hypnotic sculpture in one of the perennial borders.  Watch these videos and see if you are not mesmerized.

See more of their sculptures here.

The children’s garden included a marvelous garden gate, with Peter’s blue jacket in the background.  Sal’s bear lives here to, complete with an overturned bucket of blueberries.

And the quote from Miss Rumphius was the perfect touch.

We also enjoyed the bullfrogs in the pool.

Plants to remember include this purple-tinged datura

and the gorgeous blue of this salvia. More salvias!

Perhaps in the end this garden is not really about the individual plants, of which I seem to have few pictures.  It’s really about building a garden that incorporates native plants and uses the existing sweep of the land to its best effect.  AKA, bloom where you’re planted – which, in my case, means returning to the heat and drought of midsummer in Virginia.


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