My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Sunday, July 24, 2016

A visit to Coastal Maine Botanical Garden

July 17, 2016

(I'll try, but I'm afraid I'm going to have WAY too many pictures.  So spare a little more time for this blog.)

View of the Visitor Center - this is the only grass in the garden

Our third stop in the Boothbay area was the Coastal Main Botanical Garden. (Since this was the BEST adventure, you'll have to wait for the others.) I had found a write-up about this garden and found it is 270 acres of tidal shore in Boothbay, Maine and that Trip Advisor has named it the #1 public garden in the United States. So I was willing to drive the seven hours round trip distance needed to get to Boothbay to visit it. Just walking in, I was amazed at the layers and textures in this garden.

Some of a group of fish at the entrance

A little bed near the entrance is still exuberantly textured and colored

 I told Christina, the intern who accompanied me, to go do whatever she wanted, since I would drive her crazy if she was waiting on me to take pictures. We agreed to meet in three hours. Then I started exploring the kitchen garden which had a beautiful mix of flowers and vegetables in raised beds. There was a beautiful fountain as the focal point.

The view that drew me into the kitchen garden

Even in the kitchen garden the textures were amazing

This plant had a little more texture that I'd want in my garden

What a marvelous lettuce

My next stop was at the children's garden. This was quite large and again had lots of colors and textures. It also had a pond and a full model of the little whaler boat, Tidly Idly from the children's book, Burt Dow, Deep Water Man. I had never heard this Maine story but soon I found a little children's reading room, hosted by a docent, and this was one of the first books I saw. I had to stop, sit in a rocking chair, and read the story of Burt Dow, his laughing seagull, and his barely floatable boat. One day, while out fishing, he managed to catch a whale by the tail. He got his hook out and then put a bandaid on the tail. Then a big wind came up and Burt asked the whale to swallow him until the wind went down, since his boat would not withstand the big waves. The whale did swallow him but Burt had to make the whale a little sick in his stomach to get back out. (You'll have to read the book to find all those amusing details.) He erupted out of the whale's stomach to find himself surrounded by whales. He finally figured out they too wanted bandaids on their tails. After that he managed to get back to land.

Kids can put on oilskins and climb into the boat and imagine themselves inside a whale. (The oilskins weren't quite big enough for me.)

A long view of part of the children's garden

I found a frog with a very sore nose in the children's garden

One of the structures in the children's garden

A water lily in the children''s pond

Another fun spot in the children's garden

I've always wanted a bed like this in my garden - but with a raised bed planted "mattress"

There were lots of fun things in this area. Kids are allowed to pick blueberries, and there are lots of whimsical things to enjoy. There is also a kind of a tree house with a bridge built into a net connecting it to another house. Below it there is another sitting area with lots of stump stools.

Loved the praying mantis and the succulents on the roof of one of the houses
 in the children's garden

The bees and I loved these echinaceas - that's a tricolor bumblebee and is also found on the refuge

Then I started down all the paths I could find in the main garden. The garden is in a forest and has so many layers. The trails are often parallel but you only occasionally see the heads of visitors on them. Otherwise, you are walking past flower beds and shrubs, and sometimes under trees. Lots of flowers were in bloom, but some had already gone to seed and some were still in bud. So this is probably a fun place to visit from very late spring through early fall. And I'm sure it's bones will also look great after the flowering season. And there are little branching trails off the main trails that lead to little dead end rooms. Each of them has a very different feel. One of them was visible as the trail crossed a small creek, just below a musical waterfall, then ended up at a bench agains the background of shrubs. One of the three woman ahead of me voiced my thoughts, saying, “I could just sit here for hours and enjoy the peace.”

The entrance to the children's garden

Art in the only open area of the gardens

A path showing the textures and colors and attraction to the next "around the bend"

A very small but densely planted area plus art

Another path view

The paths had some differences in paving materials adding to the diversity of texture

A view around the main pond

Level changes also help make this garden feel tightly planted

Loved this sweet pea - and how spring,  summer, and fall plants seem to bloom almost at once 

Many plants could add structure, texture and color, all within themselves

Another great little view

The art was integrated into the site and complemented the other textures and colors

Textures redoux plus art

One of the most interesting exhibits was several walls of plants. There was a docent in that area and I talked to her about them. I think the story was that the original donors of the garden had a handicapped relative and wanted the garden to be accessible and enjoyable for people that might be missing a sense or not be very mobile. They invented a system consisting of a wooden frame that holds cubes made of a kind of stiff fencing. These are packed with planting medium, apparently inside of “pillowcases” of landscape fabric, then planted. The frames have different flowers planted on each side and are oriented to have a sunny side and a shady side. I immediately wanted to add frames of very textured plants, as well as plants with different scents, that people could touch and smell without having to bend over.  The garden has offered classes on how to replicate these planters. 

One of the wall gardens - begonias are planted on the other side

This is the cube that is filled with soil and then stacked inside the frames, two deep

I soon realized that the garden is set right into a coastal forest and that there are hiking trails through that forest to where there are a few other gardens. But I'm sure you are tired of this blog by now, so I'll save them for my next blog. And we had a few other adventures that day. Watch for them as well.

If you want to learn more about this outstanding garden, click here.