. . . including open gardens, public and private, as well as other noteworthy landscape- and garden-related events open to the public in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.
The Corona virus is forcing many postponements, cancellations, and other changes. It’s always a good idea to confirm opening dates and times.
Please e-mail listings, preferably in the format below, to: email@example.com.
- Year Round
Wednesday & Friday, YEAR ROUND, 9:30-11, 2-3
Blaine House, State and Capitol Streets, Augusta, Me. Maine’s 19th-century governor’s mansion, surrounded by broad lawns edged with annuals, perennials, shrubs, and trees. Free. Admission on guided tours only; make reservations at mainestatemuseum.org/learn or 207-287-6634 at least 3 days in advance.
Daily, YEAR ROUND, dawn to dusk
Fort Williams Park, 1000 Shore Road, Cape Elizabeth, Me. Naturalistic cliff-top gardens on a former military reservation overlooking the ocean, now owned by the town of Cape Elizabeth. In an ongoing restoration program led by the Friends of Fort Williams Park (sponsor of the Annual Cape Elizabeth Garden Tour), thickets of Japanese knotweed and other invasive exotic plants have been removed, thereby revealing native plants and picturesque ledges and opening up dramatic views of Casco Bay and Portland Head Lighthouse. Graceful plantings of native trees, shrubs, perennials, and ground covers are being added. Free.
Daily, YEAR ROUND
Wild Gardens of Acadia, Route 3, Acadia National Park, about 2 miles south of Bar Harbor. Three-quarter-acre collection of 400 plants, mainly perennials, all native to Mount Desert, labeled and arranged in 12 distinctive habitats (mountain, meadow, bog, brookside, etc.); maintained by volunteers. Free.
Daily, YEAR ROUND, dawn to dusk
Woodlawn Museum, Route 172, Ellsworth, Me. Beautiful brick Federal mansion with tall, elegant 18-pane windows (the Black House) on 180 acres with large old trees and a formal garden enclosed by a lilac hedge. Grounds free; house tours $12, May-October.
Daily, YEAR ROUND, 9-4
The Fells, Route 103A, Newbury, N.H. Historic summer home of John Hay, secretary of state under presidents McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt; extensive gardens created by Hay’s son Clarence and Clarence’s wife, Alice, including a large hillside rock garden, walled gardens, perennial borders, and woodland gardens on 83 acres on lake Sunapee. $5-10.
Daily, YEAR ROUND, dawn to dusk
Maple Hill Gardens, 117 Ridge Road, Hollis, N. H. 12 “theme” gardens, both formal and informal, with more than 350 shade-tolerant or sun-loving species, mainly perennials, planted around the Beaver Brook Association’s headquarters buildings. Free.
Daily, YEAR ROUND
Prescott Park, Marcy Street, Portsmouth, N.H. City-owned waterfront park with three fountains and well-designed flower gardens: Brick paths curve around billowing beds of (mainly) annuals, each variety planted in a large stunning sweep. Free.
Daily, YEAR ROUND, but best in mid-July
Rhododendron State Park, 424 Rockwood Pond Road, Fitzwilliam, N. H. Named for its 16-acre grove of Rhododendron maximum, the largest colony of wild rhododendrons in northern New England. The huge, centuries-old broadleaf evergreen shrubs—also known as rosebays or great laurel—are viewed from a nearly level, handicapped-accessible .6-mile trail. Rosebays are less showy than other rhodies—their white blossoms tend to be sparse—so try to visit only during their peak bloom period: mid-July. The adjacent .1-mile Laurel Trail curves through eponymous mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia), another native broadleaf evergreen shrub with shiny leathery leaves; its exquisite white flowers bloom in June. The Wildflower Trail passes herbaceous perennials. $4 on summer weekends; otherwise free, but donations are welcome.
Daily, YEAR ROUND, dawn to dusk
Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park, Saint-Gaudens Road, Cornish, N.H. Historic home and studios of noted sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Grounds include his sculptures and formal gardens with fountains and pools, enclosed by tall clipped evergreen hedges. Buildings open Memorial Day weekend – October 31. $10.
Daily, YEAR ROUND
Garden at Tracy Library, 304 Main Street, New London, N. H. The quadrilaterally symmetrical garden behind the public library, designed in 1926 by the Olmsted Brothers, features a square pool, with a bronze fountain, surrounded by lush perennial beds in neat parterres. Free.
Daily, YEAR ROUND (except Easter, Thanksgiving, and December 24-26), 9:30-4:30
Hildene, Route 7A, Manchester, Vt. A stunning Georgian Revival mansion built by Robert Todd Lincoln, the only child of Abraham Lincoln to live to adulthood. In the broad terrace in front of the home, a tapestry of perennial beds is framed by an elaborate formal network of privet hedges. $23.
Daily, YEAR ROUND, 10-5
Shelburne Museum, 6000 Shelburne Road, Shelburne, Vt. 22 small gardens, mostly perennials, plus many lilacs and mature trees decorate one of New England’s largest collections of historic buildings and other artifacts. 2-day admission: $25 from May 1 to October 31 ($15 for Vermont residents), $10 from November 1 to April 30.
www.shelburnemuseum.org; the “museum from above” video is a graceful aerial tour of the museum’s 45-acre campus.
April – October
Daily, APRIL 15 – OCTOBER 31, 9-5; 9-6 in July and August
Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, off Route 27, Boothbay, Me. One of northern New England’s newest public gardens, but already its largest and most elaborate—and getting more extensive every year. It already includes vast display gardens and a large woodland rhododendron collection surrounding an impressive waterfall. $18.
April – November
Monday-Friday, APRIL-NOVEMBER, 8-4
University of Vermont Horticultural Farm, 65 Green Mountain Road, South Burlington, Vt. Large collections of mature ornamental plants, including more than 15 species of rhododendrons and native azaleas, which bloom in late May/early June; more than 100 lilacs, including 46 different varieties, which bloom in May; rare conifers and other shrubs; plus large perennial beds. A free map identifies the collections, which include some of the largest specimens in Vermont. Free.
Daily, LATE MAY, dawn to dusk
Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion, 375 Little Harbor Road, Portsmouth, N. H. Common lilacs (Syringa vulgaris), planted in the mid-1700s by the colonial governor Benning Wentworth, are at peak bloom. Free.
May – August
MAY 23-24, JUNE 13, 18-19, JULY 11-12, 18, AUGUST 15-16
Northern New England Open Days. 15 exceptional private gardens—3 in York, Me., 4 in Peterborough, N.H., 5 in the Upper Valley of New Hampshire and Vermont and 3 in Manchester, Vt.—open to the public in the Garden Conservancy’s annual Open Days program. $9 per garden. The Conservancy seeks to preserve America’s outstanding gardens and open them to the public, usually as non-profit organizations (see www.gardenconservancy.org). The Fells was one of its first preservation projects. Evergreen, now a non-profit public garden, was an Open Days garden from 2010 to 2017.
The open gardens are all described below, as well as in the Conservancy’s 2020 Open Days Directory and at www.garden conservancy.org.
MAY 23-24, JULY 11-12, AUGUST 15, 10-4; AUGUST 16, noon-5
- Braveboat Harbor Farm: Formal and informal gardens, a woodland garden with a pond, an orchard, a vegetable garden, espaliered apple and pear trees, and collections of rhododendrons, magnolias and other flowering trees and shrubs surrounding a Georgian stone house with Atlantic Ocean views.
- Boardman Vegetable Gardens: Large organic annual and perennial vegetable plantings in raised beds, plus berry bushes, on a half-acre lot. Open only August 15, 10-5, and August 16, noon-4.
- Pondfield: Densely planted flower gardens with a view of a tidal pond and the York River. Open only August 15, 10-5, and August 16, noon-4.
May – October
Asticou Azalea Garden, intersection of Routes 3 and 198, Northeast Harbor, Me. Serene, naturalistic 2.3-acre Japanese-inspired garden created by the amateur landscape designer Charles K. Savage; mainly evergreen trees and shrubs, including rhododendrons and azaleas taken from Reef Point, the former estate of the noted landscape architect Beatrix Farrand in Bar Harbor. Many of the plants are arranged along a stream and around two ponds. There’s also a Japanese-style raked-sand “pond” garden with rock “islands.” Peak azalea bloom is late June; rhododendrons and mountain laurel are most colorful in July. Suggested donation: $5.
Daily, MAY-OCTOBER, dawn to dusk
Asticou Terraces, Route 3, Northeast Harbor, Me. Superb naturalistic landscape created by Boston landscape architect Joseph Henry Curtis at his former summer residence: A smooth half-mile path gently ascends a forested hillside, past handsome wood-and-stone gazebos with views of Northeast Harbor. The presence of only indigenous materials (granite, spruce trees, mosses, sheep laurel, and blueberry bushes) erases the line between the human-made and the natural. The path ends at the Thuya Lodge, Curtis’ summer home, and the Thuya Garden, described below. The Terraces are described at greater length, and illustrated with two color photographs, in The Woodland Garden. Donation requested.
Daily, MAY-OCTOBER, dawn to dusk
Thuya Garden, Route 3, Northeast Harbor, Me. Mostly formal, straight-sided beds of perennials and annuals surrounded by a rolling lawn, with informal groups of trees and shrubs at the edge of the forest, which surrounds the one-acre garden. Like the Asticou Azalea Garden, it was created by Charles K. Savage with plants taken from the former Bar Harbor estate of Beatrix Farrand. Thuya, incidentally, is the phonetic spelling of Thuja, the scientific name for cedar (Thuja occidentalis), which thrives on Mount Desert Island and which was used to build the Thuya Lodge (above). Suggested donation: $5.
MAY 2 – OCTOBER, Tuesday-Friday & Saturday-Sunday on the first & third weekends of each month, 10-4
Bedrock Gardens, 19 High Road, Lee, N.H. A large, lively collection of plants, garden follies, and contemporary sculpture by garden co-creator Jill Nooney arranged across 30 acres of a former dairy farm. $10 suggested donation.
Daily, MAY 9 – OCTOBER 31, dawn to dusk
McLaughlin Garden & Homestead, 97 Main Street (Route 26), South Paris, Me. A 3½-acre collection of perennials, trees, and shrubs—especially lilacs—planted by the late Bernard McLaughlin at his former home. $5 suggested donation.
Daily, MID-MAY – MID-OCTOBER, dawn to dusk
Charlotte Rhoades Park & Butterfly Garden, Route 102, Southwest Harbor, Me. Lush, well-maintained one-acre seaside garden, mainly of annuals and perennials (including milkweed) that attract monarchs and other butterflies. $5 suggested donation per family.
Daily, MID-MAY – MID-OCTOBER, 10-5:30
Fuller Gardens, 10 Willow Avenue, off Ocean Boulevard (Route 1A), North Hampton, N.H. Early-20th-century ocean-side Olmsted-designed estate gardens created by businessman, philanthropist, and former Massachusetts governor Alvan T. Fuller, with rose gardens, conservatory, annual displays, small Japanese garden, and walled perennial garden. $9.
Daily, MID-MAY – MID-OCTOBER, 10-5:30
Shelburne Farms, 1611 Harbor Rd., Shelburne, Vt. Gilded Age estate of the Webb family, now a large non-profit working farm and opulent inn and restaurant with restored formal gardens: symmetrical terraces, supported by elegant balustraded brick and stone walls, on a slope on the edge of Lake Champlain. The long, narrow terraces are planted with neat groups of (mainly) perennials. Like a villa on Lake Como, the view from the lawn above the terraces is an extraordinary use of “borrowed” lake-and-mountain scenery. A long balustrade is the base of a stunning view: a vast expanse of the region’s largest lake, with the Adirondacks—the highest mountains in New York State—rising to the horizon on the far side. $8.
Wednesday-Sunday, MAY 16-OCTOBER 14, 11-5
Old Stone House Museum. The lovely historic hamlet of Brownington, Vt., is a collection of attractive early 19th-century buildings and a 25-by-50-foot formal garden of perennials and herbs popular in the 1800s. $10.
Daily, MAY 1-NOVEMBER 1, dawn to dusk
Kirkwood Gardens, Route 3, just north of Route 113, Holderness, N. H. Informal 1-acre garden, now owned by the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center, with graceful plantings of both sun-loving and shade-tolerant annuals, perennials, and shrubs; plus fountains, sculpture, and signs describing the plants. Free.
Friday-Sunday, JUNE 5-7, 10-5
Evergreen, 42 Summer Street, Goffstown, N.H. The one-acre woodland garden’s annual public opening is always on the first weekend in June, when its sweeps of 220 Catawba rhododendrons are at or near peak bloom. Free.
Due to the Corona virus, Evergreen’s annual public opening, including Robert Gillmore’s “Digging Deeper” lecture, has been cancelled.
Friday-Sunday, JUNE 12-14, 10-5
The Birchwood, 3217 Hazen’s Notch Road, Montgomery Center, Vt. The second major woodland garden created by landscape designer Robert Gillmore opens for the first time when nearly 700 of its more than 1,200 rhododendrons are in bloom. $7, to benefit the Friends of the Montgomery Library.
Due to the Corona virus, the Birchwood’s first public opening has been postponed to June 11-13, 2021.
Saturday, JUNE 13, 10-5
- A Cook’s Garden, on a quarter-acre lot in Manchester Village, is a tiny, classic, formally designed potager that produces salad greens and vegetables and, in the words of its designer—kitchen garden maven Ellen Ecker Ogden—creates “a tapestry of colors when seen from inside the house.” Ogden will lead tours at 10 and 2.
- A lively collection of thousands of annuals, perennials, trees, and shrubs, the 20-acre Rogerland, on the main street in East Arlington, also includes a putting green, lawn bowls, topiary, custom ironwork, and seven water features.
- Turkey Hill Farm, in Manchester, includes a pond, fruit orchard, Japanese garden, sculpture garden, vegetable garden, a path through the woods, plus a pergola, gazebo, vine-covered arbor, barn, screen house, greenhouse, and a former corn crib converted into a guest house.
Sunday, JUNE 14, 1-4:30
New Castle Village Walk & Garden Tour. Self-guided tour of 9 private gardens in one of New Hampshire’s oldest towns. Begins at the Coast Guard station on Wentworth Road, off Route 1B. $25; $20 if tickets are bought before the tour date.
Friday, JUNE 19, 5-8; Saturday, JUNE 20, 9-3
31st Annual Pocket Gardens of Portsmouth Tour. 10 private gardens in Portsmouth, N.H., including those of the 18th-century Georgian South Church. $25; $20 if tickets are bought before the tour weekend.
Saturday, JUNE 20, 10-4
Palace Theatre Garden Tour, Manchester, N.H. 8 private residential gardens in New Hampshire’s largest city. $25; $20 if tickets are bought before the tour date.
JUNE 19, 26; JULY 3, 9, 17, 24, 31; AUGUST 7, 14, 18, 20
Celia Thaxter’s Island Garden. Poppies, hollyhocks and other venerable perennials first planted by the romantic poet Celia Thaxter at her family’s summer hotel on Appledore Island, one of the Isles of Shoals off the New Hampshire coast. Thaxter described her 15-foot-by-50-foot garden in An Island Garden, published in 1893 and illustrated by the impressionist painter Childe Hassam—one of Thaxter’s many distinguished guests, who included such 19th-century literati as Emerson, Hawthorne, and Longfellow. The island’s Shoals Marine Laboratory offers day cruises from New Castle, N.H., including a guided tour and “gourmet” lunch, for $100.
June – September
Thursdays, JUNE 25 – SEPTEMBER 24, 1-4
Garland Farm, 475 Bay View Drive (off Route 3), Bar Harbor, Me. Home and gardens of noted landscape architect Beatrix Farrand (designer of the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden, and other gardens on Mount Desert Island). Mainly perennial beds in symmetrical parterres, including heather, heath, and lavender gardens. $5 suggested donation.
June – October
Wednesday-Sunday, JUNE 1 – OCTOBER 15, 11-4
Hamilton House, 40 Vaughan’s Lane, South Berwick, Me. Impressive 1785 Georgian mansion overlooking the Salmon Falls River with formal perennial gardens and fountains. $10.
JUNE 1 – MID-OCTOBER, Monday-Saturday 11-5, Sunday 1-5
Moffatt-Ladd House & Garden, 154 Market Street, Portsmouth, N.H. Elaborate 3-story colonial Georgian mansion with lush, terraced perennial gardens on the slope behind it, plus a gigantic horse chestnut tree—50-plus feet high and wide—planted by William Whipple after he signed the Declaration of Independence. $8 for house and gardens; $2 for gardens only.
Wednesday, JULY 8, 10-4
33rd Annual Central New Hampshire VNA and Hospice Home and Garden Tour. 4 properties in Wolfeboro, N.H. $40. Buffet lunch $20.
Thursday, JULY 16, 9:30-4
73rd Annual Garden & House Tour. 6 private properties in Camden, Me., sponsored by the Camden Garden Club. $40; $35 if tickets are bought before the tour date.
Friday, JULY 17, 9:30-4:30
‘The Sea Around Us.’ Tour of homes and gardens in Maine’s Boothbay Region, sponsored by the Boothbay Region Garden Club. $35; $30 if tickets are bought before the tour date.
Saturday, JULY 18, 9-4
10th Annual Cape Elizabeth Garden Tour. 10 private gardens in Cape Elizabeth and South Portland, Me. Sponsored by the Friends of Fort Williams Park. $40; $30 if tickets are bought before the tour date.
Saturday, JULY 18, 10-4
- Overlooking the Connecticut River, the 3-acre Boggy Meadow Farm in Walpole, N. H., has English borders, a grape arbor, a small sunken garden, and a narrow ravine with a stream.
- The Margaret Everitt Garden in East Dummerston, Vt., boasts more than 100 varieties of peonies, a cherry orchard, many lilacs, a sunken garden, a courtyard garden, a spring-fed pond, and mature locust trees around the residence.
- Built around a cascading stream, the Gardens of Rita Ramirez and Tom Bodett, also in East Dummerston, Vt., include a pergola garden, bocce court garden, gravel garden, and extensive collections of annuals, perennials, and shrubs.
- Originally a hillside farm, the Garden of Bill Noble, in Norwich, Vt., includes perennial and shrub borders, rock gardens, vegetable gardens, and an orchard. Garden expert Noble’s latest book—Spirit of Place: The Making of a New England Garden—will be published by Timber Press in May and will be for sale on site.
- The lush 1½-acre landscape of garden designers Gordon & Mary Hayward in Westminster West, Vt., surrounds a restored late 18th-century farmhouse and includes informal collections of perennials, trees, and shrubs planted within formal parterres. The gardens also offer charming naturalistic rooms and other vignettes, picturesque furniture and sculpture, and views of surrounding meadows. The landscape is featured in one of the Haywards’ books, The Intimate Garden, and on their website, www.haywardgardens.com.
Sunday, JULY 19, 10-4
Peterborough, N.H., Open Days. 4 private gardens in New Hampshire’s Monadnock Region open to the public in the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days Program.
- One of the largest, most elaborate, and, no doubt, costliest private gardens in northern New England, the 9-acre Fry Garden includes such striking features as a 300-foot sycamore allée and another allée of 110 crabapples. The landscape is so rich that it takes several hours to give it the attention it deserves.
- The Gardens of Maude & John Odgers feature unusual combinations of trees, shrubs, annuals, and perennials. According to artist Maude Odgers, “gardening is painting in motion. A soft palette and flowing shapes create a sense of serenity.”
- The Malt Family Garden sits on a ridge with dramatic views of Mt. Monadnock. Besides extensive recreational amenities—swimming pool, basketball court, playing fields, outdoor kitchen, etc.—the 60-acre property has an orchard, a vegetable garden, and drifts of shrubs, perennials, and ornamental grasses.
- The primary feature of the Gardens of Laura & Jamie Trowbridge is the long sunny border of annuals, perennials, bulbs, shrubs, and specialty trees that runs along the ancient stone wall at the edge of their lawn. There’s also shade gardens and vegetable plots.
Sunday, JULY 19, 10-4:30
29th Annual Gardens in the Watershed Tour. 7 private gardens within walking distance of each other in historic Thomaston, Me.; benefiting the Georges River Land Trust. $35; $30 if tickets are bought before the tour date. A “gourmet” lunch may be pre-ordered.
Saturday, JULY 25, 10-4
Open Garden Day. Tour of 6 private gardens in Northeast Harbor and Seal Harbor, Me., sponsored by the Garden Club of Mount Desert. $45; $40 if tickets are bought before the tour date.
July – September
Tuesdays, Thursdays & Saturday afternoons, JULY 14 – SEPTEMBER 11
Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden. Designed by the wife of John D. Rockefeller Jr. and the noted landscape architect Beatrix Farrand at the former Rockefeller estate in Seal Harbor, Me. Large perennial beds in curving, symmetrical parterres; extensive Asian statuary and moon gates; ocean views. Guided 2-hour tours by reservation only. $15.