You may still see snow on the mountains when spring officially comes. But in our hearts, we’re longing to visit the beautiful gardens of mid-coast Maine. Spring can be finicky along the coast, with brilliant sunshine one week, followed by a last-gasp spring snowfall. Fortunately, most gardeners plan for an errant frost in our region. They often hold off planting annuals and vegetables until late May.
The gardens surrounding our bed and breakfast in Rockland, Maine, slowly spring to life amid the warming temperatures of late March. Valiant crocus and hearty witch hazel are the first to appear. And, after a long, colorless winter, the sunny yellow faces of daffodils are a welcome sight come April. Soon after the daffodils begin to droop, the flowering trees and bushes burst into bloom, signaling that spring is here to stay.
Throughout the spring, summer, and fall, Rockland and the surrounding villages are awash in color. Some of our favorite spots to enjoy the beautiful gardens of mid-coast Maine are within an easy drive of the Berry Manor Inn. From humble gardens and nature centers to full-on botanical masterpieces, it’s a virtual gardener’s delight. So, in anticipation of your visit this year, we want to share a few of our favorite gardens to visit on your getaway to Maine.
Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens
This masterpiece in Boothbay was just a dream a few years ago. However, under the guardianship of its founders, the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens have become one of Maine’s top attractions. Carefully blended into the natural environment of the coastline, the gardens feature native plants and those that thrive in coastal conditions. Stroll through the butterfly garden, children’s garden, and arbor garden. Chill out in the meditation garden and the garden of the five senses. Hike the shoreline trail, and spend a quiet moment on the landing to admire the working waterfront of the Back River. A day spent among this beautiful coastal Maine landscape will surely fuel your fire to get out in the garden and dig.
Merryspring Nature Center
A hidden jewel, located in Camden, Maine, is the Merryspring Nature Center. It encompasses 66 acres of groomed gardens, nature trails, and an arboretum. Scattered around the property, you’ll find theme gardens including an herb garden, rose garden, pollinator garden, and children’s garden. What’s more, nearly 4 miles of hiking trails traverse the landscape, introducing you to a number of points of interest. If you’re a birder, be on the lookout for dozens of bird species that frequent the gardens throughout the year.
Vesper Hill Children’s Chapel
Located among the back roads between Rockport and Camden, a tiny outdoor chapel sits quietly among flowering annuals, perennials, and herbs. The Vesper Hill Children’s Chapel, built in 1960 on the site of a former hotel, provides the ideal ambiance to sit and reflect on the beauty of nature. Break out your sketchbook to capture the peaceful surroundings, or simply lay back and picnic on the lush lawn.
A little further afield in the capital of Augusta, the Viles Arboretum provides free and easy access to miles of walking trails, dozens of unique botanical collections, and art installations by featured artists. Open dawn to dusk, year-round, it’s a great place to bring your bike, snowshoes, or cross-country skis. The Visitor Center is open Wednesdays-Saturdays from 10:30 AM to 4:30 PM. It hosts exhibits, a gift shop, snack bar, and restroom facilities.
Clearly, there’s more to Maine than just lighthouses and lobster. Rockland, in particular, offers a wealth of indoor and outdoor activities, sports and cultural events. As we’ve detailed, they have gardens galore. The next time you visit us at Berry Manor Inn, be sure to visit one of the beautiful gardens of mid-coast Maine. And, if you want to know what’s in bloom here, read our blog.
Published: March 2022