Whether you're a resident or a visitor, summertime in Maine may bring visions of the coast, but there are other gems as equally sure to delight. The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay are open every day from May through October each year (and for Gardens Aglow at the holidays), offering joy, peace, and stimulation for all the senses as the seasons progress through the landscape.
While there are botanic gardens all across the United States and the world, the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens are unique in that the garden was not initially backed by government or philanthropic organizations like most botanical gardens. It was started as a dream in 1991 by a group of Mainers in the Boothbay region who envisioned a public garden that would meld itself with the native land of Maine. It is still referred to as "a People's Garden," because it was always by and about the people themselves, creating a space for learning and respite... a garden oasis that is born of its native flora, woodland, and coastline while also incorporating cultivated gardens and horticultural research that goes farther afield. At CMBG, you can find many species native to Maine, walk along trails, discover fairy houses created in the woodland setting by small hands, explore the herbarium, and traverse cultivated gardens designed for consistent interest and education. It's a haven for the people of Maine and its visitors.
Published in 2012, Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens: A People's Garden tells the story of CMBG from its inception. Just as those who envisioned the garden were the ones who raised funds and took part in its creation, the book is told through the voices of those who were part of the initial planning and the early years of the garden. CMBG has grown since the book's 2012 publication, but the different gardens described within and portrayed in gorgeous photographs are all still there as part of the wider place. Learn about the grassroots efforts at the heart of the garden's origins and then delve into each part of the 295 acres: the Vayo Meditation Garden, the Haney Hillside Garden, the Lerner Garden of the Five Senses (where horticultural therapy sessions are held), the Bibby and Harold Alfond Children's Garden, and much more. The final parts of the book articulate future visions for the garden. If you have pride in Maine, you'll likely enjoy the essentially Maine feel to the story—a story of people who love their land and created something wonderful and unique from it that can be shared across all cultural and regional lines. If you're able to visit, a book is a wonderful thing... but there's no substitute for the natural world and for being in the place itself.