Visit a Garden, Enjoy the View and Improve Your Well-Being
Now that we’ve planted and nurtured our gardens, it’s time to admire the gardening of others. Time spent in gardens has been shown to benefit our mental health. This time with trees, flowers and other plants recharges our psyche, and boosts our general wellness. According to the late Oliver Sacks, neurologist and author, nature has a quality that benefits “not only spiritual and emotional but also physical and neurological” aspects of our health.
Here in Harpswell are several gardens tended by members of the Harpswell Garden Club. On Harpswell Neck Road, just south of the Elijah Kellogg Church, are the Harpswell Historic Park Gardens. These gardens surround Centennial Hall, and were planned and planted by the garden club nearly 30 years ago, when Centennial Hall was moved to this lot owned by the garden club. During the summer, you will find shaded benches where you may sit and enjoy the garden views. Also, our cutting garden is in full bloom, and generally filled with butterflies as well as flowers.
Elsewhere in Harpswell is the Town Office Garden on Mountain Road. This small, circular garden welcomes visitors to the town office, sitting in the middle of the front driveway and parking area. The garden club has a partnership with the town office employees who have assisted us in planting bulbs for colorful spring blooms. During the warm days of summer, day lilies, daisies, coreopsis and salvia may all be in bloom.
Going north from Harpswell, in Brunswick Landing just off Admiral Fitch Boulevard are gardens maintained by the Harpswell Garden Club. Just over 50 years ago, the garden club partnered with the United States Navy to plant a Memorial Garden in the Navy’s Chapel courtyard. That garden and its sister, the Friendship Garden, are still there, as the garden club now partners with the Naval Museum to maintain these gardens.
In addition, at the P-3 Park just behind the museum, in the shadow of the P-3 parked there, is a new garden: the Gold Star Families Memorial Garden. Established in 2018, this garden and marker honor the families of servicemen and women who gave their lives in service to our country. This small garden, surrounding the Gold Star Memorial Marker, is being transformed from an annual planting to a perennial bed. Keep an eye on this to see how it develops over time.
Further from the Harpswell and Brunswick area are several other gardens. Heading north on Route 1, it is worth a stop in Wiscasset to see the Nickels-Sortwell House and Garden. The Garden Club of Wiscasset maintains this garden at 121 Main Street. Just beyond Wiscasset, follow Route 27 to Boothbay and discover the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. As these gardens mature, their beauty and our enjoyment grows as well.
For an overnight adventure, you could visit Mount Desert Island and see the Thuya Gardens, the Wild Gardens of Acadia and Asticou Garden. Along the way, stop in Camden and admire the work of the Camden Garden Club in the plantings along the streets of downtown. Or, time your visit to include the Camden Garden Club’s Garden and Home Tour, offered on July 18 this year.
To our west, in South Paris, is the McLaughlin Garden and Homestead. While known for the fabulous lilacs on display in May, the Garden offers something to see in every month of the growing season.
If you are heading south, stop in Portland at the Wadsworth-Longfellow House and Garden on Congress Avenue. The Longfellow Garden Club was organized in 1924 to tend the sheltered garden behind home of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The garden is open to the public, daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through October.
Finally, there is a fabulous garden tour in Cape Elizabeth, held on July 20. Click here for more information about buying tickets. This event supports the Friends of Fort Williams Park, home of the famed Portland Head Lighthouse.
The New England states abound with public gardens, all worth a trip to see. Some are part of historic homes, so your trip can combine a visit to a historic building as well as beautiful, well-maintained gardens.
In Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the Strawbery Banke Museum abounds with small gardens. Massachusetts boasts a number of gardens, including Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston and The Mount, in the Berkshires. A wonderful destination to visit in Connecticut is the Hill-Stead Museum and Garden in Farmington. The house is filled with the works of impressionist artists, including Monet, Degas and Cassatt, and that itself is worth the trip. The gardens outside the home are a place to relax and recharge your energy. For an armchair tour of New England gardens, pick up a copy of The Garden Tourist, by Jana Milbocker.
So take some time out from your work and your garden chores. Visit a garden and relax, take in the sights, sounds and scents of summer. It will make you feel great!