Beauty begets beauty, at least that’s the way we see it here in Maine. When every bike ride provides awe-inspiring vistas and even a trip to your local coffee shop is infused with the splendor of nature’s bounty, a desire to cultivate your own aesthetic addition is only, well, natural.
Whether you’re a bonifide horticulturist or have trouble keeping a houseplant alive, Maine’s renowned gardens, parks and arboretums provide tranquility, reflection and inspiration. With Maine as our muse, natural beauty is never far from reach and our curated parks and gardens act as an extension of our famed wild flora.
Options 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 botanical 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, 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).
Many of Maine’s gardens host special events including concerts amongst the blooms, special dinners cooked by Maine chefs, plant sales, high-teas, educational programs for the whole family, garden tours and antique shows.