Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Asticou Terraces and Thuya Gardens, Maine

Hand-carved cedar entrance gates

One of my favorite places we visited last week in Maine on Mount Desert Island were the Asticou Terraces and the Thuya Gardens and Lodge. To get to the gardens, you have to climb the Asticou Terraces trail about a quarter mile up a hillside above Northeast Harbor.  The property belonged to renowned Boston landscape architect Joseph Henry Curtis who spent summers here from 1880-1928, and who designed the Asticou Terraces Trail and the scenic outlooks on the hillside. When Curtis died in 1928, he gave the property to Mount Desert Island residents for their 'quiet reflection and enjoyment.' The area got its name from the abundance of northern white cedar (Thuya occidentalis). After Mr Curtis's death, a local landscape architect and longtime Northeast Harbor resident,  Charles K. Savage (also innkeeper of the nearby Asticou Inn),  was appointed trustee and over the next 37 years he designed the English style herbaceous gardens on what was formerly an orchard, and renovated the lodge to house Curtis's collection of botanical and horticultural books. Mr. Savage designed the gardens in the style of the famed British gardener Gertrude Jekyll, and many of the plants in the garden are from the Bar Harbor garden of Beatrix Farrand (an American gardener inspired by Jekyll)  when her estate was dismantled in 1956.

There are more than 80 varieties of perennials and annuals in the herbaceous borders. The dahlias were especially beautiful when we visited.

If you look carefully you can see a hummingbird in the blue salvia below. I have never seen so many hummingbirds in a garden before. They were flying all around the gardens and all around us.  I kept trying to get a good photo, with little success. I was surprised there were still hummingbirds, I would have thought they would have migrated south by now. The only hummingbirds in Maine are the ruby-throated hummingbirds.

Patient husband

I really loved the rustic old lodge, it was so warm and cozy and especially loved the library upstairs which has an amazing collection of gardening books. I could have stayed there all afternoon looking at the books.

And this is the view as you climb the meandering path that goes up the hillside to the gardens,  with beautiful views of Northeast Harbor. The hillside is planted with azaleas, so it must be really spectacular in the spring.

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