Friday, September 17, 2010

Portland, Maine

Friday, September 17, 2010

48° here on the mountain, wet and quiet. Three deer are feeding not 100 feet from my office window but that won't last long as I hear Karl the Wonder Dog stirring. The weather is supposed to change to the positive by noon and I am in hopes that Alex and I can get away to the Tunbridge Fair. If you know that fair you know that it is synonymous with "wet" and "interesting". We'll see.

Gardeners always have different ways of expanding their knowledge of gardening and for Gail and me it has always been a ton of reading, lots of trade journals, a few trade and flower shows, discussions with plant brokers and an annual trip to the Maine coast to see what is happening a couple hundred miles away. We stop at New Hampshire gardens and garden centers along the route and always come away with new ideas. If you cannot make the trip yourself, Lynn Karlin and Rebecca Sawyer-Fay produced a book maybe ten years ago named Gardens Maine Style. It was published by Down East Books and was the first of what became popular pictorial summaries of Maine gardens. There is a sequel to it now that is also interesting and other authors have produced in similar styles.

Alex has always been interested in history and it was his autism and his interest in military history that led us one summer when he was about eight or nine to South Portland Maine, the Portland Head Lighthouse, Fort Williams and Goddard Mansion. Part of gardening includes history and these three sites are part of one park in South Portland, Maine. Last week I had a chance to go back and see what changes had taken place. For the sake of time, I've included some websites to provide the background. Click on any images for a better view.


Certain places draw me like a magnet and the Goddard Mansion is a place I'd like history to rewind for me. Sadly the building crumbles away and what began by the local selectmen as filling in the basement led to outside fencing and at some point the building will be taken down. It is a monument to summer homes of bygone years and encyclopedic stories could be documented of events that took place there. It is a fabulous structure that must have had incredible gardens at some point.

I love stone and as my mind walks through the vacant rooms via these pictures, what incredible gardens these stones could make. In reality, my vision is far distant from others and the costs alone of razing this size building get scary.




Both sides of the walls could be a classroom for teaching invasive species as bittersweet climbs to the sky covering sections with thick vines. The blue of wild chicory around the building's base is the only color of interest and as I walked the circumference I really was surprised that all I could find were a few rugosa roses, typical of the coast, and the crunch-crunch-crunch of acorns under a minor number of oaks that set seed this year.


Goddard Mansion is probably like many similar buildings throughout America. Devoted non profits work diligently to secure funding for rehabilitation but interest often cannot be jump started and building decay is all that's left. For me, Goddard Mansion remains a place to visit--a ruin for sure, gardenless, hidden on three sides by overgrowth that even prevents ocean views, but a place with a spirit from the past. If any readers have historical insight into the gardens I suppose existed, I am interested. When I get a chance, I will put a few more pictures on our Facebook Page, Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens for those who are interested.




Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where the temperature is dropping as what I hope is some high pressure begins to move in. Animals of the wood, birds and courageous gardens will be moving soon.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm
On Facebook as Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens
On Twitter as vtflowerfarm

1 comment:

Jan (Thanks For Today) said...

HI George...wonderful photos and info;-) I lived in Cape Elizabeth and graduated from HS there;-) Love that whole area. All of these places are in Cape Elizabeth so I'm familiar with them. So nice to have more links to check out;-)