The Wild Gardens Of Acadia

By The Old House Web


A scant half-mile from Acadia National Parks popular (and crowded) park loop road, the Wild Gardens Acadia are a serene, secret garden.


Photos and text by Deborah Holmes

Throngs of tourists visit the rugged, glacial beauty of Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island in Maine during the short summer season. Even on remote hiking trails, it's challenging to find a solitary spot anywhere in the park.

That's what makes the Wild Gardens of Acadia so pleasurable. They beckon, like a shady, serene, secret garden. Step along the pine needle pathways, and you'll be transported miles from the shops of Bar Harbor, and the crowds viewing Thunder Hole, Cadillac Mountain and Sand Beach.


Tired of crowds? Sit for a while in the solitude of the gardens.


Despite the "wild" name, the Gardens are restful places with plenty of granite and pine benches for quiet contemplation, and nature watching. The wild refers not to the nature of the garden, but to the fact that only plants indigenous to Acadia National Park are planted here.

You won't find daisies, yarrow, lupine, rosa rugosa, purple loosestrife and clover, which though abundant on Mount Desert Island, are not native. The island, of which Acadia is part, was created by glacial collisions. This left it with flora from both the cold north and the warmer south.


Blue flag iris in pond habitat

(Click on pictures for larger view)


Another inhabitant of the pond -- a green frog, basking in the sunlight.


Lilies reach toward the sun from the shady pond's shore.


The carnivorous pitcher plant thrives in the bog garden.

In 1909, Charles W. Eliot and George B. Door recognized the unique environment and bought a section of land in the Sieur de Monts Spring area. They named it the Wild Gardens of Acadia, and deeded it to the U.S. Government.

The land sat unattended until 1961, when Bar Harbor Garden Club members asked for land to plant a public exhibit of native wildflowers. The goal of the garden was to stimulate interest in conservation.

The park superintendent offered 3/4 of an acre of mostly blackberry bushes near Sieur de Monts Spring. The garden club eagerly seized on the property's large ferns and winding brook, and began laying out walkways.

The work of maintaining, identifying, planting, and labeling is still carried out by volunteers from nearby Mount Desert Island communiites and garden clubs. The National Park supplies labels and signs, maintains the water system and sponsors a college student who works full-time in the summer.

Plants are labeled and displayed in 12 re-created habitats typical to the park, including "roadside," "mountain," "beach," "bog" and "marsh."


A striped maple grows in the mixed woods.


Visitors view the marsh from a wood plank walkway.


Bluish-green bog rosemary.


Fireweed in the meadow, an area of continual change, which is mowed yearly to prevent return to forest.


A jack pine in the mixed woods.

?

(Click on pictures for larger view.)


Scotch lovage in the seaside garden.


The pond


A glassed-in gazebo protects the Sieur de Monts spring, the "Sweet Waters of Acadia," once thought to have healing powers.

The Wild Gardens of Acadia are open year-round daily; admission is free. A self-guiding brochure is available for 25 cents, which goes directly to support the garden. Follow signs from Route 3 south of Bar Harbor to reach the gardens.


A scant half-mile from Acadia National Parks popular (and crowded) park loop road, the Wild Gardens Acadia are a serene, secret garden.


Photos and text by Deborah Holmes

Throngs of tourists visit the rugged, glacial beauty of Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island in Maine during the short summer season. Even on remote hiking trails, it's challenging to find a solitary spot anywhere in the park.

That's what makes the Wild Gardens of Acadia so pleasurable. They beckon, like a shady, serene, secret garden. Step along the pine needle pathways, and you'll be transported miles from the shops of Bar Harbor, and the crowds viewing Thunder Hole, Cadillac Mountain and Sand Beach.


Tired of crowds? Sit for a while in the solitude of the gardens.


Despite the "wild" name, the Gardens are restful places with plenty of granite and pine benches for quiet contemplation, and nature watching. The wild refers not to the nature of the garden, but to the fact that only plants indigenous to Acadia National Park are planted here.

You won't find daisies, yarrow, lupine, rosa rugosa, purple loosestrife and clover, which though abundant on Mount Desert Island, are not native. The island, of which Acadia is part, was created by glacial collisions. This left it with flora from both the cold north and the warmer south.


Blue flag iris in pond habitat

(Click on pictures for larger view)


Another inhabitant of the pond -- a green frog, basking in the sunlight.


Lilies reach toward the sun from the shady pond's shore.


The carnivorous pitcher plant thrives in the bog garden.

In 1909, Charles W. Eliot and George B. Door recognized the unique environment and bought a section of land in the Sieur de Monts Spring area. They named it the Wild Gardens of Acadia, and deeded it to the U.S. Government.

The land sat unattended until 1961, when Bar Harbor Garden Club members asked for land to plant a public exhibit of native wildflowers. The goal of the garden was to stimulate interest in conservation.

The park superintendent offered 3/4 of an acre of mostly blackberry bushes near Sieur de Monts Spring. The garden club eagerly seized on the property's large ferns and winding brook, and began laying out walkways.

The work of maintaining, identifying, planting, and labeling is still carried out by volunteers from nearby Mount Desert Island communiites and garden clubs. The National Park supplies labels and signs, maintains the water system and sponsors a college student who works full-time in the summer.

Plants are labeled and displayed in 12 re-created habitats typical to the park, including "roadside," "mountain," "beach," "bog" and "marsh."


A striped maple grows in the mixed woods.


Visitors view the marsh from a wood plank walkway.


Bluish-green bog rosemary.


Fireweed in the meadow, an area of continual change, which is mowed yearly to prevent return to forest.


A jack pine in the mixed woods.

?

(Click on pictures for larger view.)


Scotch lovage in the seaside garden.


The pond


A glassed-in gazebo protects the Sieur de Monts spring, the "Sweet Waters of Acadia," once thought to have healing powers.

The Wild Gardens of Acadia are open year-round daily; admission is free. A self-guiding brochure is available for 25 cents, which goes directly to support the garden. Follow signs from Route 3 south of Bar Harbor to reach the gardens.



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