Kate Flora: Here at Maine Crime Writers, we don’t always talk about writing. One of our goals is to bring you “all things Maine” and share some of the places, and events, that we find special and hope our readers will, too. The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens are not a new subject for this blog, I’ve mentioned them before, and so has Barbara Ross. Today, the subject is a bit different: butterflies, scarecrows, gardens in the fall, and in particular, the beyond wonderful Bibby and Harold Alfond Children’s Garden.
Looking for a way to spend a lovely fall day? Grab yourself a child and head to the gardens. Especially for fall, the gardeners have assembled wonderful collages of flowering plants, grasses, pumpkins, squash, and gourds, like these.
Scarecrows are everywhere, and they are endlessly creative. They hang from the windmill, tend large tin tubs, recline on the rocks, and lean against the trees, playing their drums.
Even though it is mid-October, the mild fall means that many flowers, especially annuals, are still in bloom, and those blooms are abuzz with busy bees and the amazing delicacy of butterflies. Worried about the Monarchs? They are everywhere here. Wondering what those butterflies that look like little Monarchs are? Those are your painted ladies. Amidst the bees and butterflies, the ponds attract a variety of dragonflies.
Some of the fun things to do with your child? There is almost too much to do. At the entrance to the children’s garden, there is a quote from Barbara Cooney’s Miss Rumphius engraved in the stone. “You must do something to make the world more beautiful.” There is no doubt that the Alfonds and other donors have done that here. More beautiful, magical, and engaging.
Walk past the spouting whales. Take tea in the little tea house. Go rowing in Burt Dow’s boat (from Robert McCloskey’s Burt Dow: Deep Water Man) or stroll past Mr. McGregor’s garden and see Peter’s blue coat. See little bear and Sal’s spilled pail of berries from Blueberries for Sal. Go up in the tree house and walk the rope line. Don’t worry. You can’t fall.
That is just one small corner of the garden. After the children’s garden, there were scents and textures and a chance to stick your head in a stone and hear your voice thunder. Black petunias (at the small child level, so guess who saw them?) and sculptures moving in the wind like silver birds. And because our small child had a camera, there was pond to photograph frogs.
Did I neglect to mention the amazing flowers? Globe Thistle and Love Lies Bleeding and other jewels of the late season?
This is a place to visit again and again, season after season, to watch the botanical world change. Maybe next time, I’ll see you there.