Maine Cruise: Boothbay Harbor, ME

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens,-- which opened in 2007 coavers some 300 acres in Boothbay, ME
Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens,– which opened in 2007 covers some 300 acres in Boothbay, ME

ONBOARD INDEPENDENCE-Boothbay Harbor goes by the slogan “Boating Capital of New England,” and the sprawling harbor does indeed bustle with fishing vessels and pleasure craft alike. But the town is also becoming known as home to New England’s finest botanical gardens. Some experts name it one of the nation’s best.

We visited Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens on an ACL tour (a $45 option) with no idea of what to expect. After all, we’re in Maine – which given its extremely short growing season — is not thought generally of as one of the world’s garden spots. But to put it bluntly, these masterfully designed and riotously colorful gardens blew our socks off!

Lerner Garden of Five Senses at-- Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, Boothbay, ME
Lerner Garden of Five Senses at– Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, Boothbay, ME

The gardens truly are extraordinary and not just for their northerly exposure, but for the fact they are still in their relative infancy. Founded by a dedicated group of local conservationists on 125 acres of shorefront woodland and opened to the public in 2007, CMBG’s array of pocket theme gardens and brilliantly landscaped network of trails – which have since expanded to more than 300 acres — appear so mature that you’d think they’ve been around for ages.

Our two-hour tour hardly did the gardens justice, but we certainly enjoyed what we had a chance to see – particularly the Lerner Garden of Five Senses, so cleverly laid out as to respond to the various human senses such as sight, smell and touch. And there’s the magical Bibby and Harold Alfond Children’s Garden, designed to encourage play, imagination and discovery.

July 11, 2014

Photos by David Houser

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