Gardens and Landscapes
While it's hard to believe people could improve on Maine’s natural beauty, horticulturists and landscape designers have tried - with great success.
Maine's renowned gardens include historic treasures such as: Hamilton House, in South Berwick; the Woodlawn Museum gardens in Ellsworth; and the Tate House Museum herb garden, in Portland. There are also recently restored gardens including the McLaughlin Garden, in South Paris, and Camden Harbor Park, designed in 1931 by the firm of Frederick Law Olmsted, father of American landscape architecture. And there's the new, expansive and spectacular Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay. (Hint: Don't miss the children's garden.)
Try to seek out some of Maine's lesser-known delights. These include: Augusta's Viles Arboretum, with the Governor's Grove; Ecotat Gardens and Arboretum, in Hermon, with more than 1,500 varieties of perennials; Freeport's Stone House, especially inviting when its rhododendron bloom in spring; Bangor's Mt. Hope Cemetery, the country's second oldest cemetery garden, according to the National Register of Historic Places; Avena Botanicals Medicinal Herb Garden in Rockport; and Merryspring Horticultural Nature Park, in Camden, with its lovely woodland gardens.
The New England Wildflower Society maintains Springvale's Harvey Butler Memorial Rhododendron Sanctuary, Woolwich's Robert P. Tristram Coffin Wild Flower Reservation, and Vassalboro's Annie Sturgis Sanctuary.
Mount Desert Island is especially garden-rich. Of special note are: the Asticou Azalea Garden and Thuya Garden, both in Northeast Harbor; the Wild Gardens of Acadia, at Sieur du Mont Springs in Acadia National Park; the pocket-sized Charlotte Rhoades Park and Butterfly Garden in Southwest Harbor; the Beatrix Farrand Garden located at Garland Farm in Bar Harbor; and the private Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden, in Seal Harbor (open by reservation only).
Don't just stop and smell the flowers in Maine gardens. Be sure to check calendar listings for special events such as concerts, chef-prepared dinners, plant sales, teas, educational programs, children’s activities, arts fairs, antiques shows and even croquet games. Many local historical societies and garden clubs offer house and garden tours, a great opportunity to peek behind the garden gate.