The Great Lawn garden with layers of echinacea & sedum. Tall grasses and the top of the arbor are seen in the background.
Photo Credit : Heather Marcus
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Summer on the Maine coast is one of those New England rites of passage—lobster rolls, working harbors, rocky beaches, salty air, lighthouses—the sights, sounds, and smells of summer by the ocean. What a treat for the senses to discover the picturesque Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay. Started by a small group of friends in 1991 using their own funds, these gardens have grown and continue to expand (with plans for a Conservatory and Discovery Center in the works) into an important learning and experiential center. Filled with magical trails, creatures, sculptural art, and native blooms, this is an incredibly special landscape.
Accessible garden paths are interspersed with water features and contemplative alcoves, wending among larger areas, such as the Lerner Garden of the Five Senses. Accessibility is core to the mission, as are horticultural therapy programs. In the coastal woods, giant wooden trolls—Guardians of the Seeds, made by Danish artist Thomas Dambo—are one of the biggest draws for families. These keepers of the land each have an important message to share about preserving the environment and forest landscape. Everyone waits patiently for their turn for a selfie or photo op with Birk, Soren, Gro, Lilja, and Roskva, who were much more impressive in person than I had imagined. Tours include important discussions around building climate-resilient communities.
Don’t leave without taking home something from the environmentally-minded Gardenshop, where you’ll be tempted by unique handmade items. We couldn’t resist the sweatshirts—I took home one silk-screened with a cute bee from eco-friendly Connecticut artist Rachel Decavage’s Cinder + Salt.
Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens opens in early May and closes in late October, and reopens briefly for Gardens Aglow when the landscape becomes a magical wonderland of lights from November 18-December 31. This treasure is worth the visit, to bathe soul and spirit in a coastal woodland landscape.