Since you already are up in Maine for the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller garden tour with Bonnie Drexler (see post below), stay a day and visit Northeast Harbor with Bonnie and The New England Wild Flower Society.Â This tour, described below, is limited to 20 participants, and costs $30 for NEWFS members and $36 for nonmembers.Â Register at www.newfs.org.
The Asticou Azalea Garden and the Thuya Garden are linked by location as well as history. These complementary gardens were created by Charles Savage, a local innkeeper and self-taught landscape designer, who rescued plants from designer Beatrix Farrandsâ€™ abandoned estate in Bar Harbor to create the gardens along the north edge of Northeast Harbor. At the Asticou Azalea Garden, rhododendrons, mountain laurels, heathers and azaleas were planted to transform a swamp into a stroll garden with an Asian flavor. The water gardens of the Katsura Imperial Villa in Kyoto, Japan supplied the inspiration for Savagesâ€™s flowing Asian design.
Farrandâ€™s plants were also used to create Thuya Garden, where an overgrown apple orchard stood before. We climb a trail winding up the slopes of Eliot Mountain under towering spruce and cedar trees. Rustic cedar shelters provide rest stops with views of Northeast Harbor below. At the top, we enter the formal garden through a pair of carved wooden gates (below) featuring fiddlehead ferns, ladyâ€™s slipper orchids, frogs, iris, and owls among others. The two main formal borders are planted with drifts of perennials that range from warm to cool hues as you stroll by. A shallow reflecting pool, a hidden summer house, and giant garden urns punctuate the gardenâ€™s floral displays.