Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Coastal Maine 2

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Good morning again from Vermont Flower Farm where it's windy and 51.9 degrees with very soggy ground after a tremendous storm last night. I never like to cut short anything I am writing but the thunder storm approached quickly last night and I wanted to get things shut down here. We are surrounded by a number of objects that lure in lightning strikes and although we have never had a problem at the house, we want to keep things that way.

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens is a work in progress that is already a masterpiece of delight for gardeners like me. As I left Route 27 and made the entrance, the series of sculptures made me slow to enjoy each one. As I entered the parking lot there were about 20 cars but it was still early I thought and what could I expect of a garden which had just opened in June. From the time I parked the car and began my journey, it was abundantly clear that this was a masterfully designed and planted garden which everyone would enjoy.

I made my way up the walk to the front doors and entered. Three ladies greeted me at the front desk and we chatted about my journey and how I had become aware of the gardens. We exchanged questions as gardeners always do and I exited the building to the side lawn and my first view of what to expect. I stopped short, in awe of all in front of me, as I tried to take in the colors, textures and heights. I stuffed the map brochure in my camera case and began a journey that took well over two hours.

I walked along the Visitor Center to the Kitchen Garden, then the Rose and Perennial Garden and the gazebo, then down to the Hillside Garden and the Meditation Garden. I went up and down the hill a couple times to be sure I didn't miss anything but each time something else caught my eye. I knew a lot of the plant material but fewer of the trees and shrubs than I wish to admit. On and on I walked, respecting all the time the almost countless hours that went into the planning and design, let alone the planting of this enourmous place of beauty.

Walking the paths time and again reinforced in my mind the difficulty the design team must have had pulling together divergent design philosphies while matching plant materials which would grow successfully in an area where fog and sea salt breezes are part of the competition.

I have been so busy this summer that I haven't been able to get to Seattle to revisit my still new-to-me grandson. When I am in that city I always enjoy Dale Chihuly's glass sculpture which to me is difficult to describe but easy to enjoy. As I made my way to the Forest Pond, there in the middle was one of Chihuly's works, reminding me of what I wouldn't see in Seattle this fall. The yellow was a perfect match to a large group of senecing ferns which caught my attention near the parking area.

As I made one final tour around the Great Lawn, I let the images I had seen filter back through my mind. This is truly a remarkable botanical garden, still in its infancy but already a tribute to the very dedicated group who took a vision and created a monumental coastal garden.

I chatted with the ladies at the desk one more time and headed for the parking lot. Vehicles of all descriptions had filled many of the lots and the access road was a long line of vehicles. If you get close to Boothbay next time you're in Maine, plan a visit to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. If you are a gardener like me, you'll come away energized and carrying a new vision of how to plant and display differently, even on the scale of your own gardens.

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond, Marshfield, Vermont where the strong winds have forced the temperature to remain a steady 51.9 degrees despite the departing clouds and the welcome sunshine.

Best gardening wishes,

George Africa


Meg said...

How breathtaking, what a place. Thanks for the tour. I enjoyed it.

George Africa said...

Hi Meg!

Those gardens will continue to be expanded upon over the next several years while the current gardens fill in and approach maturity. They will continue to please crowds for certain. What impresses me is the number of talented people who came together to prepare the design. I know that you work with doll clothing. Just think if you got a job to recreate something historical and there were six other designers helping. Big task!

Glad you enjoyed the pictures!

George Africa