Tour des Fleurs

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Get inspiration for your patch of green by touring some of the prettiest gardens in Maine.

By Meadow Rue Merrill

Guided Tours of Celia Thaxter’s Garden
June 29, July 3, July 13, July 20, July 27, August 2, August 10, Kittery
Literary enthusiasts will appreciate nineteenth-century poet Celia Thaxter’s gardens on Appledore Island. Reconstructed with some of Thaxter’s plants, the raised-bed gardens follow the writer’s design. Offered by the Shoals Marine Laboratory and led by docents from the University of New Hampshire, the tour begins with lunch followed by a forty-minute boat ride to the island. The boat leaves from University of New Hampshire’s Judd Gregg Marine Research Complex (29 Wentworth Road, New Castle, New Hampshire). Reservations required, $100. 603-430-5220. sml.cornell.edu

Open Days at Garland Farm
July through mid-September, Bar Harbor
Explore the gardens, fields, and woods surrounding this early-nineteenth-century farmhouse (475 Bay View Drive). Once owned by the family of Lewis Garland, property manager for the landscape architect Beatrix Farrand, the 100-acre farm is on the National Register of Historic Places and owned by the Beatrix Farrand Society. Thursday and Saturday, 1 to 5 p.m. (no tour July 27). Call for fees. 207-288-0237.
beatrixfarrandsociety.org

Guided Tours of Camden Public Library Amphitheatre and Harbor Park
July through August, Camden
The library and Fletcher Steele-designed amphitheater were recently designated a National Historic Landmark. Harbor Park, across the street, is the work of the renowned Olmsted Brothers. Fridays, 4 p.m. Free. 207-236-3440. librarycamden.org

Belfast Open Garden Days
July through first week of September, Belfast
Every Friday the Belfast Garden Club opens a different garden to reveal the skills of local growers. This year’s schedule includes  farms, backyard raised beds, and a Japanese garden, displaying both specimen and native plants. Fridays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. $4. 207-338-3105. belfastgardenclub.org

Schoodic Peninsula Books ‘N’ Blooms Garden Tour
July 6, Winter Harbor
Five unique and striking gardens on the scenic Schoodic Peninsula showcase a wide palette of colors and styles. The tour takes visitors from cottage gardens to seaside groves dominated by impressive boulders and water features. Purchase tickets at Winter Harbor Public Library (18 Chapel Lane). 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. $20. 207-963-4113. winterharbor.lib.me.us

Viles Arboretum American Chestnut Celebration
July 6, Augusta
Once abundant in Maine, the now uncommon American chestnut tree is the focus of this two-hour celebration at the 224-acre botanical garden and arboretum (153 Hospital Street). Experts from the American Chestnut Association guide tours and describe the history of the garden’s roughly eighty chestnut specimens, which should be in full flower. Also worth seeing is the largest hosta collection in the state and the new outdoor art walk, featuring fourteen large sculptures by Maine artists. 10 a.m. to noon. Free. 207-626-7989.
vilesarboretum.org

Old York Garden Tours
July, York
Five spectacular private gardens owned by Old York Garden Club members are open to the public, rain or shine. Sundays, 12 to 4 p.m. $4. oldyorkgardenclub.org

Medicinal Herb Garden Walks
July 10, July 24, August 7, August 14
Rockport
Herbalist and gardener Deb Soule guides walks through Avena Botanicals’ three-acre organic herbal classroom (219 Mill Street). Named one of the most influential gardeners in the Northeast, Soule is a teacher and author. 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. $5 suggested donation. 207-594-0694.
avenabotanicals.com

Tidebrook Walk: Garden, Woods,
and Water Views
July 11, Freeport
The Freeport Conservation Trust sponsors a walk at Tidebrook Farm (Bartol Island Road), a private home surrounded by gardens and wooded trails with views of the Harraseeket River. The property is protected by a conservation easement held by the trust. 4 p.m. Free. 207-865-3985. freeportconservationtrust.org

Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden 
Open Garden Days
July 11-September 5, Seal Harbor
Each year this private garden, built in the 1920s by Abby and John D. Rockefeller, Jr., is open to a limited number of guests by reservation. Thursdays, 9 to 11 a.m. and       11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Free. 207-276-3330.
rockgardenmaine.wordpress.com

Waldo County General Hospital Aid Garden Tour
July 12-23, Belfast and Northport
A dozen owner-designed and -maintained Belfast and Northport gardens are open for this self-guided tour. Also open are the main gardens and four cottage gardens along the shorefront of the Penobscot Shores independent-living facility, where refreshments are served. Sponsored by the Waldo County General Hospital Aid. Tickets and maps at the Waldo County Hospital gift shop (118 Northport Avenue). 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. $15. 207-930-6739.         wcgh.org

Private Gardens of the Kennebunks
July 13, Kennebunk and Kennebunkport
Radio talk-show host and gardening expert Paul Parent is the special guest speaker at one of nine gardens on this tour. Sponsored by Kids Free to Grow, the York County child abuse prevention council. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. $25 in advance, $30 on the day of the tour. 207-985-5975. kidsfreetogrow.org

Hidden Gardens of Phippsburg
July 13, Phippsburg
The Popham Circle presents ten gardens, many with views of the Kennebec River or Totman Cove. Proceeds benefit the historic Popham Chapel. Tickets can be purchased at the Phippsburg Sportsmen’s Association (272 Main Road) on the day of the tour or by calling ahead. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. $25 before July 1, $30 after. 207-389-2620.

Kennebec Valley Garden Club 
Walking Tour
July 13, Hallowell
This self-guided walking tour features eight gardens, including those of the Vaughan homestead, with its stone        paths, terraced perennial garden, and 200-year-old apple tree, as well as the gardens at the Hubbard Free Library. Tickets are available through area businesses. 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. $15 in advance,        $20 the day of the tour, $5 per garden. 207-377-2197.

Gardens in the Watershed Tour
July 14, Upper St. George River Watershed
Every year, the Georges River Land Trust leads visitors on a journey through a different part of the St. George River, giving them a sense of the midcoast region’s tremendous biodiversity and cultivated landscapes.This year’s tour surveys seven gardens in the upper watershed, including a working    farm, sunflower business, and mail-order geranium operation. Tour includes lectures on various gardening topics. 10 a.m. $28. 207-594-5166. georgesriver.org

Brunswick Garden Tour
July 14, Brunswick and Topsham
A network of colorful signs leads the way to eight private gardens. Flower experts are at each site to answer questions. Proceeds benefit the Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. $12. 207-725-6558.

Island Gardens
July 14, Mount Desert Island
This Bar Harbor Garden Club tour features eight gardens, large and small. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. $20 in  advance, $25 the day of the tour. barharborgardenclub.com

Gilsland Farm Wildflower Walk
July 17, August 14, Falmouth
Using Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide, naturalist Mike Windsor will lead a wildflower walk at the Gilsland Farm Audubon Center (20 Gilsland Farm Road). The walk includes the natural history and identification of plants. 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. $12 Maine Audubon members, $15 non-members. 207-781-2330. maineaudubon.org

Camden House and Garden Tour
July 18, Camden
The oldest garden club in Maine, the Camden Garden Club’s influence is everywhere in the serene gardens that dot the landscape of this seaside town. Its annual tour, now in its sixty-sixth year, attracts both locals and tourists. 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. $25. 207-785-2086. camdengardenclub.com

The Garden Illuminated
July 20, South Paris
Winding paths and a profusion of blooms come to life for one night each year when the beloved McLaughlin Garden (97 Main Street) is illuminated with hundreds of twinkling lights. Visitors are encouraged to write a wish on paper balloons that will be inflated and lighted before being launched. Refreshments served. Sunset to        9:30 p.m. Call for fees. 207-743-8820. mclaughlingarden.org

Herbs in the Country of the 
Pointed Firs
July 20, South Berwick
Historic New England landscape gardener Nancy Wetzel gives a talk examining the historic importance          of herb gardens through the lens         of Maine writer Sarah Orne Jewett’s book The Country of the Pointed           Firs at the Sarah Orne Jewett         House (5 Portland Street), after   which the garden will be open for tours. 5:30 to 7 p.m. $10 Historic       New England members, $15 non-members. 207-384-2454. historicnewengland.org

The Sea Around Us
July 26, Boothbay Peninsula
Boothbay Region Garden Club’s self-guided tour showcases eight distinctive properties, from a 1920s-era log lodge to a newly built mansion. Proceeds benefit the club’s scholarship and community programs. Tickets available at the Boothbay Harbor Chamber of Commerce (192 Townsend Avenue). 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. $20 in advance, $25 the day of the tour, or $7 per house. 207-633-5052.  boothbayregiongardenclub.org

Bar Harbor Open Day
July 28, Mount Desert Island
When America’s rich and famous made Mount Desert Island a coveted getaway in the 1880s, they brought with them a world-class horticultural tradition. This tour focuses on Beatrix Farrand, one of the era’s foremost landscape architects, who designed many of the island’s famous gardens. From Bar Harbor’s first summer homes at Kengarden to Farrand’s final residence at Garland Farm, take a journey through an illustrious gardening history and the mind of one of America’s greatest landscape artists. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fee varies. 845-424-6500. gardenconservancy.org

Backyard Locavore Tour
August 10, Cumberland County
Fourteen Cumberland County gardeners and food preservers open their backyards and offer demonstrations on gardening techniques, food preservation methods, and more. Coordinated by University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s master gardener and food preserver volunteers, tour highlights include poultry, honeybees, container gardening, and food preservation techniques with demonstrations and food samples. Proceeds benefit the gardens at Tidewater Farm. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. $15 in advance, $20 the day of the event, children under 12 free. 207-781-6099. umaine.edu/cumberland

Down to Earth: A How-to Tour of the Hamilton House Gardens
August 18, South Berwick
Learn about maintaining a historic garden and glean gardening tips as Mimi Demers and Kathy Gray share their knowledge and experience at the historic Hamilton House (40 Vaughans Lane). Topics at this Historic New England-sponsored event include buying plants, feeding and fertilizing, favorite tools, and more. 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Registration required. Free to garden members,  $8 Historic New England members, $15 nonmembers. 207-384-2454. historicnewengland.org

Merryspring Nature Center Herb Garden Tour
August 27, Camden
As part of an ongoing lecture series, gardener Nancy Jackson will lead a tour and discussion of the herb garden at the nonprofit Merryspring Nature Center (30 Conway Road), which contains heirloom and cutting-edge cultivars. 12 to 1 p.m. Free to Merryspring members, $5 nonmembers. 207-236-2239. merryspring.org

Please note that this is not meant to be a comprehensive list. If you would like your tour included in any future listings, please email the details to [email protected].

Photo: © Elena Elisseeva | Dreamstime.com

Meadow Rue Merrill is an award-winning Maine journalist and frequent contributor to Down East.

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