The Coastal Maine Botanical Garden has come a long way since its conception in 1991. The idea was to help build relationships between individuals by re-purposing 148 acres of coastal land and creating a People’s Garden. In fact, the first phase of the garden was only completed 20 years later in 2011. Nowadays the garden is the largest in New England, seeing more than 200,000 annual visitors,
The garden offers a wide variety of areas and exhibits to consider, such as The Dahlia Garden, featuring 60 different varieties of this beautiful flower. The Lerner Garden of the Five Senses is divided into 5 sections offering a sensual feast. Allow the garden to take you on a journey from scented flowers, to edible fruits, to panoramic views, to a reflexology labyrinth, to the sound of birds chirping and water flowing. The Vayo Meditation Garden offers an idyllic, tranquil environment, where land and water come together in perfect harmony, offering visitors the ambiance to Self Reflect.
For animal lovers, it is a must to visit the Native Butterfly and Moth House, an area of over 2,000 square feet dedicated to assisting and celebrating the life cycle of butterflies and moths. Similarly, the informative Learning Apiary and Native Bee Exhibit is home to 16 Honey Bee Hives.
When visiting with children, the Bibby and Harold Alfond Children’s Garden is a two-acre garden offering activities targeted towards a younger audience, including painting, story-telling, puppetry, and animal feeding. Similarly, the Caterpillar lab is another child-friendly educational activity.
The Great Lawn is an open space originally designed to contrast the forested landscape surrounding the garden. With Whale Rock and Founders Grove, as the two main attractions, the Lawn is mostly used by visitors as a picnic area.
The Shoreland Trail is a nature trail featuring 3 miles of footpaths, leading around the garden, forested areas, and featuring river views. This trail is definitely recommended for nature lovers.
Throughout the year multiple events are held at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. Fairy Friday is targeted towards children through multiple crafts and fairy yoga. In October, the gardens celebrate fall through the exhibition of scarecrows which features some healthy competition as visitors get to choose the best one.
Organized from Mid-November to the End of December, Gardens Aglow is one of the most popular events. During the event, the garden becomes a spectacle of light as it is decorated and set alight with more than 650,000 Christmas Lights. A walk through the garden is guaranteed to excite your inner child, and kindle the holiday spirit of any visitor. Due to COVID concerns, the last Gardens Aglow was organized as a drive-through, to ensure health safety, with tickets selling at $40 per car. Unfortunately given that the garden is closed during this period, visitors can only attend this event, and cannot visit other areas of the garden.
In May, giant trolls occupy the woodlands of the gardens, inviting visitors to go look for them. The Guardian of The Seeds is an informative and educational event, whereby visitors, walk through the woods searching for nature’s protectors and looking for the 10 golden seeds. The 5 large trolls are constructed by Danish artist Thomas Dambo using recycled materials. Their aim is to teach visitors about the history of the woods and about its sustainability, especially the importance of planting more trees and the reduction and recycling of waste. Tickets for the event are likely to sell out and need to be purchased ahead of time.
Coastal Maine Botanical Garden is open between May and October between 9 till 5. Tickets are sold at $22 with concessions being made for seniors, children, and veterans. While parking is usually available at the parking lot, visitors can also reach the gardens through a boat ride from Boothbay Harbor or Southport Island Bridge. For adventurous visitors, it is also possible to kayak around the Sheepscot River.
The gardens are accessible to people of all abilities, especially through the rental of scooters and wheelchairs from the visitor center. The old visitor center building is an ideal place to visit to grab something to eat. Interestingly most of the vegetarian produce used at the Kitchen Garden is sourced through the Burpee Kitchen Garden itself.
Whether you’re a botanical enthusiast or just looking for a fun day out, a visit to the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden is set to impress. Not only is the garden well kept, but it also goes into a lot of effort to preserve nature especially Maine’s native flora and fauna. With so many activities to follow and areas to visit, one day is surely not enough to truly experience this garden’s charm.