On a recent trip to Maine, my wife Ann and I found ourselves drawn to a beacon of natural beauty nestled in Boothbay, Maine: the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens (CMBG). Initially marked as a quick pause in our road trip, this detour evolved into an inspiring encounter with a testament of community spirit, dedication, and love for nature.
In 1991, a group of local mid-coast Maine residents envisioned a world-class public garden in their community. Through sheer determination, this small group navigated the lengthy process of planning, land acquisition, and building, culminating in the grand opening of the garden in 2007. As Ann and I wandered through the lush expanse, we couldn’t help but feel moved by the palpable labor of love that birthed this stunning landscape.
We marveled at the garden’s ingenious design, its creative displays and vibrant blooms meticulously maintained. It is hard to single out the highlights, but it was amazing to see the young visitors interact with the children’s garden. The energy was infectious, and we found ourselves swept up in the waves of visitors from all corners of the country (we scoped out the license plates in the parking lot on the way out).
The gardens were at their peak, showcasing a stunning array of familiar and exotic flora alike, their radiant hues glimmering under the bright summer sky. Further exploration led us into a network of woodland trails, where the wild beauty of the Maine landscape unfolded before us, a perfect complement to the cultivated garden spaces.
Our visit was elevated by an extraordinary encounter with an installation called ‘Trolls’, the work of Danish artist Thomas Dambo. Towering over the landscape, these ecological guardians wove a compelling narrative on the significance of caring for our natural world. The blend of art and environmental advocacy was a masterstroke in engaging visitors, particularly the younger ones, in a crucial global conversation. You can explore this further on the CMBG website: mainegardens.org/trolls.
The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens proved to be more than a detour; it was a journey into the heart of a community’s shared dream. Each plant, trail, and installation narrated a story of persistence, unity, and a deep-rooted love for Maine’s diverse natural heritage. As Ann and I reflect on that bright August afternoon, we are reminded of the incredible feats a committed community can achieve and how these feats can inspire and enthrall visitors like us for years to come.