Gardens are one of my absolute favorite attractions to seek out while traveling. They’re beautiful, relaxing, time-consuming, always changing, and many are free to enter. Maine has some lovely gardens open to visitors all throughout the state. Summers in Maine are gorgeous on their own, but these amazing gardens enhance its natural beauty. Don’t miss these 11 beautiful public gardens in Maine!
Note: The hours listed are current as of June 16, 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, hours, operations, and policies are constantly changing. Check the websites of wherever you want to go for more information before making plans.
Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, Boothbay Harbor
Hours: April 15 – October 31 9am – 5pm daily. Advanced online reservations required for 2020 season due to COVID-19
The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens are located in Boothbay Harbor about 1 hour and 15 minutes northwest of Portland. Located on 295 acres of rocky and wooded coastline, it’s the largest botanical garden in New England. I’ve personally visited 4 times since moving to Maine in 2018, and I can honestly say that the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens are one of my favorite places in the state.
Some features include a Native Butterfly House, Meditation Garden, Five Senses Garden, Rhododendron Garden, and a Children’s Garden. Early June is one of the best times to go, as the rhododendrons are blooming along with a multitude of other beautiful spring flowers.
Grab lunch at their beautiful cafe which has both outdoor and indoor seating. Fresh herb and vegetable ingredients needed for dishes come straight from The Gardens. The healthy, filling, and delicious meals leave you satisfied for a reasonable price. There is also a grab-and-go store as well, if you don’t want to dine in. For more information on what to do in the area, check out my Boothbay Harbor travel guide!
The Gardens are open daily May 1 through October 31 with special hours during their Gardens Aglow event, which runs from mid November through December 31.
Pineland Farms Garden, New Glouceseter
Hours: Daily 8am to Dusk
Admission: $5 or free for select areas
Pineland Farms is a 5,000-acre working farm, diverse business campus and educational/recreational venue that welcomes visitors to enjoy its beautiful rural landscape. Campus is located in New Gloucester and offers several gardens to enjoy during the spring and summer months.
“The Garden” is a one-acre perennial, herb, and vegetable garden that features paved walkways and lovely grass to picnic on. Highlights include more than 130 varieties of perennials, 6,000 flowering annuals, five different types of blueberry bushes, 20 apple trees, espaliered apple trees and an ornamental conifer bed.
The Lilac Garden holds 34 different lilac varieties that mostly bloom in the month of May. The Cutting Garden has 3 rows of several raised beds that hold perennial and annual flowers and vegetables. The cut flower and veggies are available for purchase at The Market!
Annual Displays are placed all around The Great Lawn at Pineland Farms with over 10,000 flowers to admire. The Great Lawn is beautifully landscaped with water features, ornamental & native trees, and seasonally changing flower displays.
Fort Williams Park, Cape Elizabeth
Hours: Daily, dawn to dusk
Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth is home to the famous Portland Headlight lighthouse. Of course that’s why most people visit the park, but there’s much more to see within this 90-acre plot of land lining the coast of Casco Bay.
My favorite section is the half mile long Cliff Walk along the rocky coast leading up to Portland Head Light. It is beautifully landscaped with shrubs, flowers, and trees to fully immerse visitors in the nature that surrounds them. The Park has a significant marine and military history reflected in the mosaic of historic relics within a variety of natural and designed landscapes, including a beach, tidal pools, rocky cliffs, sunny lawns, woodlands, historic oak groves, shrub thickets, pollinator gardens, and a pond.
The Children’s Garden is 1-1/2 acres designed to let children explore their relationship with nature and one another in developmentally beneficial ways. Features include diverse woodland full of birdsong, a meadow-inspired garden alive with native wildflowers and pollinating insects, a small pond promising frogs and dragonflies, and more!
Viles Arboretum, Augusta
Hours: Grounds: Sunrise to Sunset, Visitor Center: M – F 8am to 4:30pm
Located in Augusta, the Viles Arboretum holds 224 beautiful acres of previous farmland converted to nature’s wonderland. Walk the 6 miles of trails to discover 20 different botanical collections!
The landscape ecology of the Viles Arboretum offers some of the very best natural history observing in Maine. From the second longest wetland boardwalk in the state where bird watching and photography opportunities abound to our fields and forest habitat, habitat exploration, adventure and the simple pleasure of unwinding all present themselves. Along the trails you will find many of the trees labeled to help you identify Maine natives.
McLaughlin Garden and Homestead
Hours: Mother’s Day Weekend through October 31, daily from dawn to dusk
Now over eighty years old, the landmark two-acre garden is under the stewardship of a nonprofit organization formed to preserve the historic home, barn and garden for the public. From May to October, the Garden is open daily to the public free of charge.
The formal garden features mature collections of hostas, daylilies, astilbes, iris, phlox, sedum, cimicifuga, sempervivums, and over 200 lilacs (the largest collection in New England) beneath a canopy of mature deciduous and coniferous trees. A diverse collection of Maine wildflowers and ferns border an old lane which rises up a wooded hill behind the barn.
Hamilton House, South Berwick
Hours: Grounds open dawn to dusk. The House itself is currently closed due to COVID-19.
Admission: Grounds are free of charge
Shipping merchant Jonathan Hamilton built this striking Georgian mansion and National Historic Landmark c. 1785. Its picturesque situation on a bluff overlooking the Salmon Falls River made it an ideal location for Hamilton’s shipping business and, more than a hundred years later, for the summer retreat of Emily Tyson and her stepdaughter Elise.
Today Hamilton House reflects the occupancy of the Tysons in the early twentieth century. It is one of the region’s quintessential Colonial Revival-style country estates. The elaborate perennial garden, with its charming garden cottage, provides visitors with a place to stroll and picnic overlooking the river. Rectangular beds feature a mix of annuals and perennials with an emphasis on old-fashioned varieties.
Asticou Azalea Garden, Northeast Harbor
Hours: Thursday – Sunday 10am – 2pm (limited hours currently due to COVID-19)
Admission: $5 suggested donation
The Asticou Azalea Garden, in Northeast Harbor, is a Japanese-style stroll garden adapted for a coastal Maine setting. The beauty of the Azalea Garden changes and evolves throughout the year.
A flowering cherry tree heralds the start of the season in mid-May. This is followed by a myriad of colorful azaleas and rhododendrons which bloom from late May through June. July blooms include Japanese iris, smoke bush, rosebay rhododendron, and the fragrant sweet azalea. August is a peaceful time accented by blooming water lilies and in September and October the garden is ablaze with fall colors.
Thuya Garden, Northeast Harbor
Hours: Currently closed due to COVID-19, check the website for more information on when it will open for summer 2020
Admission: $5 suggested donation
The Thuya Garden is right up the road from the Asticou Azalea Garden in Northeast Harbor and is owned by the same land trust. This is an absolutely stunning semi-formal English border garden tucked quietly away on a mountainside.
The original creator of the garden, Charles K. Savage did not want motor vehicles infringing on the natural beauty of the property. He designed extensive walkways with lookouts along the way leading from the coastline of Northeast Harbor up the mountainside to where the formal gardens are. These walkways are still available to use, but parking near the entrance of the gardens is now available as well.
The garden is about 50% perennials and 50% annuals. There are flowers in bloom all summer long, which means there isn’t a bad time to visit the garden in the warm months. I went there in early September, and couldn’t believe how many plants were blooming! Although the actual garden grounds aren’t huge, I could’ve spent hours mesmerized by several hummingbirds and butterflies feeding on the flowers.
Wild Gardens of Acadia
Hours: Daily 10am – 5pm opening for the season on June 26, 2020
Admission: Acadia National Park entrance fee
Created and maintained by volunteers, the Wild Gardens of Acadia offer park visitors an award-winning microcosm of Acadia’s uniquely varied plant communities in a serene brookside setting. The Wild Gardens include over 400 plant species, all indigenous, in thirteen sections designed to represent natural plant communities found within Acadia National Park. Mountain, heath, seaside, coniferous forest, and nine other habitats are represented.
Merryspring Nature Center, Camden
Hours: Daily, dawn to dusk
Located in Camden/Rockland, Merryspring is a 66-acre nature park and education center with several trails, gardens, an orchard, an arboretum, and woodlands. It’s a hot spot for birding in the area, and the website has a detailed list of species that frequent the property.
Visitors enjoy professionally designed beds and borders devoted to plants that thrive in Maine’s climate. Theme gardens showcase heirloom as well as cutting-edge cultivars. It is quite pleasant to just sit on a shady bench and look at the gardens, but visitors are also welcome to collect seeds, ask for cuttings or purchase divisions, or even roll up their sleeves and help us with some dead-heading and weeding.
Ecotat Gardens and Arboretum, Hermon
Hours: Daily, dawn to dusk
The name “Ecotat” combines portions of the words “ecological” and “habitat” – words describing the 91 acres of land located on Route 2 in Hermon, Maine. The acreage is home to over 55 gardens containing 280 varieties of trees, over 1500 varieties of perennials, and an abundance of animals, birds and insects.
Visitors can enjoy tours of the gardens during the growing season, hikes through fall foliage or cross country ski on trails during the winter. There is a 1.3-mile network of trails that twists and winds throughout the beautiful forest. Follow along the Tree Trail to learn more about different species of trees in Maine from posted signs and labels.
The garden portion of the property, although relatively small, shows off a gorgeous array of perennials and annuals that bloom throughout the summer and fall. There are many apple and fruit trees to admire as well. Don’t forget your binoculars if you like to bird watch!