Monday, April 05, 2010

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

elk sculpture

What a beautiful, hot day it was on Easter this year! We took advantage of the weather (and our discounted tix) to go to Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. Yes, it was a little early for the blooming flowers, but it was the perfect time to explore the gardens at leisure and be able to take note of the rock formations with mosses (below), the evergreens, the sculptures (such as the one above) and the salty tang of the Back River.


I picked up some brochures they had at the desk. One is the Geology of the Gardens (you know me, I love Rock(s)!) and the other is a guide to Native Plants that I may use this year to plan out some more gardens. Given this fantastic weather, we may have a chance to get some garden-y things done! The ginormous mulch pile has to be turned over and tilled under this year. That will make a great planting area around the nefarious bamboo that sprouted up. ('Nefarious' is not a plant name, it's just that this bamboo is highly invasive and we're confining it to one location.)

Another 'alien' that I found taking over a patch of the garden last year was a Japanese Barberry. At the Gardens, it was listed on an interpretive sign about Invasive Plants or I wouldn't have known it was an alien. Although, given how fast it grew last year, maybe I should have.

crystal globe

We followed the trails around the Great Lawn, down to the Haney Hillside Garden to the Shoreland Trail. From there, we wandered past the Fairy House Village and the Shoreland Gazebo and eventually found ourselves at the Rhododendron Gardens. We picked up the Maine Woods Trail back to Birch Allee and to the Visitor Center.

trail sign

Substantial amounts of the park are very accessible and we found only a couple of places (that were well-marked) where the trail was just a trail and not a easy pathway. Of course, you know us, we had to go there! Along these trails, it's pretty much left to nature and there are trees down across the paths, washouts and soggy going. The right footwear is the key!

If you are traveling with pets, this is not a good place to stop for a long visit. Dogs are allowed in very specified areas but they are not allowed in the majority of the Gardens. We didn't bring Bre, mostly because it was hot and we didn't think we would find a shady spot to park. So, if you have your dog and you want to go to the Gardens, it would be a good day to use doggie daycare.

OK, I won't give away all the things we saw and spoil your trip, but here's another pic from our walk in the Gardens...picture yourself here, it's a beautiful spot!

water view
There were stone benches like this everywhere on the paths. (Nothing like this on the 'backwoods' trails.) It was very relaxing to just sit and watch the water and listen to the birds.

The Gardens are 248 acres of designed and 'wild' areas. Starting out with 128 acres, it was the recipient of an additional 120 adjacent acres in 2005 making it the largest botanical gardens in New England. Open year round (except Thanksgiving & Christmas).

Check on the Things to Do page for events happening at the Gardens this year.

How to get there: From White Cedar Inn take a right on Rt 1 (in front of the house) and head north to Boothbay Harbor. Turn off Rt 1 onto Rt 27. In 9.3 miles, turn right at the statue. (We missed the turn because the green is on the left and the statue is on the right and we thought the statue would be ON the green, so use the mileage!) Make your next right onto Barters Island Rd (we missed this one, too as it came up pretty quickly). Entrance to the Gardens is about 1 mile on the left. The signage up until you get to the Garden entrance is abysmal. Tiny signs on a post with 10 other tiny signs!

If you are staying here, please ask us about discounted tickets. Tickets at the Gardens are $10/adult, we have them for $8.50.

You can pack a lunch, eat in the Kitchen Garden Cafe or head into Boothbay for lunch or dinner. There were no trash cans along the trails/paths while we were there. Pack it in, pack it out.

A new children's garden (a kindergarten?) was being built and should be done soon. (Grand Opening on July 8, 2010. Free admission all day.)

No comments: