Ramble On

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Gardens at Northeast Harbor

Our timing was good for the azaleas.
Our vacation time in Maine was coming to an end, so after all the hikes in Acadia National Park, we decided to take one last stroll around the gardens near our hotel, the Asticou Inn.  There are two - the azalea garden, which happened to be blooming just then, and the nearby terraced formal gardens called Thuya, a native American word for evergreens.  The gardens are administered by the Land and Garden Preserve of Mount Desert Island.

On our check-in day, Mary and I had taken a walk around the azaleas, which include a beatuiful pond and a zen garden.  While touring, we learned there was a moss garden that featured a toro, so checking that out became an immediate priority for me.

The traditional toro in the moss garden.
The source of my fascination with these lanterns stems from my visit to Japan in 2011.  After taking note of several that were on the base, and seeing even more beautiful examples of them on a shrine tour to Kamakura, I researched them to learn about the Buddhist cosmology represented by their structure (link here).

We found a docent in the gardens who took a break from pruning and weeding to lead us to both, as there is a second whimsical one near the pond.  I took a few minutes to settle in to enjoy them.  I continue to fancy the idea of getting one installed in the wood lot here at Hawksbill Cabin - certainly my thoughts dwelt on the possibility while we spent our time in the gardens in Northeast Harbor.

The whimsical toro near the pond.
On our last full day, after the morning hikes to the beach and the Bass Harbor Head lighthouse, we'd planned for a farm-to-table dinner at a new restaurant in town called Fork and Table (sorry, Facebook holdouts, but you will find them here).  While we were preparing for that adventure, we decided to take a walk over to the terraced formal gardens called Thuya Gardens.

The property is set apart by terraced stone staircases that switch back up the palisades to the old residence, passing plazas and pergolas on the way up.  There is a memorial to the designer, a summer resident of the place, named Joseph Henry Curtis.

At the top of the palisade, there is a leveled garden that will remind you of the formal estate gardens at Monticello or Dunbarton Oaks - with plantings done in the English style.  There are short staircases between the lawns that guide your pace as you take a pleasant walk.

It was a fine finish to our stay in Northeast Harbor and the Asticou.  It was a convincing argument for summering here in Maine on Mount Desert Island, but at last the time for us to go back to DC had come.

This is my final post in the Vacation 2016 series.  Soon enough - just as I had to get back to work at my day job, my posts here on the blog will return to status reports on the hop yards and the brewery in the works.  Those topics will be the basis of a busy July and August - so stay tuned!

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