Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Visit to Coastal Maine Botanic Garden

My first visit in to the Coastal Maine Botanic Gardens was in 2008, one year after opening.  There was lots of construction going on then.  Even so the gardens were very enjoyable to see.  Now that major construction is done and the plants are more established, I would say that the gardens are spectacular!  

This view over the Learner Garden of the Five Senses captures the care
that is taken in both the design and maintenance practices at the CMBG.

This bed of late-flowering Sneezeweed looked just like in the catalogs.

While the gardens do not consist entirely of native or indigenous species, these species do make up a major component of the plantings.  One of the goals of this garden is to show the people of this area what they can grow successfully in this northern climate.  

Considering this latest visit was in the second week of September, I was pleased to see so many of the plants were in full bloom, proving that Maine does not shut down after Labor Day.  Also while walking around the gardens I saw several staff members hard at work caring for the plants.  The results were clearly seen in how clean the beds were and how healthy the plantings looked.
These red and yellow flowers of  Blood Flower, a South American species of milkweed, really pop.
The North American butterflyweed (A. tuberosa) has similar form but is all orange.
One of the first plants I saw at the garden was Asclepias curassavica, Blood Flower, a South American native perennial, but grown as an annual in the US.  There is a Monarch Butterfly Waystation at the garden, so there are a preponderance of milkweeds, as well as other pollinator friendly plants.  An area for collecting and protecting Monarch chrysalis' is located in the Children's Garden.
Monarch caterpillar on a milkweed at CMBG.
Tussock Moth caterpillar on a Swamp Milkweed, A. incarnata, in Maryland.
I'll admit I was jealous.  Back home in Maryland we've seen only one Monarch Butterfly so far this year.  And the only caterpillars on my milkweeds have been for the native Tussock Moth.  

The Children's garden contains many fun plants, bright colors and activities for kids.  Adults can also appreciate the playful nature of the planting themes in this area.

I've been looking at some classic labyrinths, but this pattern looks a lot more fun!
Not everything in the Children's Garden is a plant.
This is a play on a bedding planting.
One of the intensely designed gardens there is the Lerner Garden of the Five Senses, which was completed in 2009.  It has areas with plants that appeal to each of the five senses:  Taste (mostly culinary species), Scent, Touch (textured plants and hardscape), Sight and Sound (water features, croaking frogs and air movement through the plants). The design allows for maximum accessibility for disabled.  A detailed description of this garden has been posted on-line by Gregory Harris

These planted walls in the 'Taste' section make the plants more accessible for visitors to reach.
Cardinal Flower and Joe Pye Weed were two of the dominant species in the garden.

The Kitchen Garden was one of the first designed areas completed.  It demonstrates creative ways to grow edible plants.  Particularly using natural materials for trellising and mixing flowers for pollinators with food plants to get both an improved visual experience and better results with beneficial insects.

Zinnias and Purpletop Vervain are two of the flowering components of this edible garden.
The Greek Columnar Basil in the middle of this bed adds a strong structural feature.

While I have not explored many of the natural trails at CMBG, I did make it down to the water to get some beautiful views of Back River that abuts the property.

There are many beautiful, less intensely managed areas.  This view of Back River is from the Vayo Meditation Garden.   
If you are visiting Downeast Maine/Booth Bay, I recommend you spend a few hours at these gardens and you will see just how much and how well plants can be grown in northern New England.

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