Asticou Azalea Garden - Coronovirus Update

  • We would like to be able to share our gardens with you this season if it does not jeopardize the safety and health of anyone. We are awaiting guidance and mandates from state and local agencies regarding our ability to be open as well as potential limits on attendance capacities for cultural attractions such as our gardens.

  • The dates for opening our gardens are currently being evaluated and as we learn more about how we can safely open, we will let you know through email, on our website, and social media.

  • For the safety of our staff, please do not try to enter the gardens now. All our gardens are closed, and the gates are locked. We have a minimal number of staff working each day to perform seasonal maintenance. 

The Asticou Azalea Garden was created in 1957 by Charles K. Savage using plants purchased from Beatrix Farrand’s Reef Point garden upon its closing. Although Savage brought much of the plant material from Reef Point to Thuya Garden, he thought that the large azalea collection would be better suited for display around the small pond in lower Asticou due to its location. At the Asticou Azalea Garden, as it came to be known, Savage’s vision of providing a good display area for the azaleas came to fruition as he arranged the azaleas along the shores of the pond to increase the effects of their beautiful blooms in the reflections of the water.


Savage had shown an interest in Japanese garden design for many years. His design ideas for the Asticou Azalea Garden show some resemblance to a Japanese stroll garden but one that was designed for a coastal Maine setting. The garden is meant to inspire serenity and reflection and creates an illusion of space – of lakes and mountains and distant horizons.


In a paper written in August 1957 Savage says:


“Very early in the approach to the problem the presence of water and of azaleas suggested that some research into the Japanese modes of treatment might be well.  It is a significant fact that many features of the natural scenery of Mount Desert have similarities to the Japanese, particularly in the parts of the island where bold ledges, rocks and pitch pines prevail.  From the outset it appeared that to the water and azaleas there ought to be added certain accents in the form of rocks.  It was but a further step to add pines.  Also, it soon became apparent that a simple path around the pond ought to be provided.  Since this had to cross the brook in order to encircle the pond, a plain piece of stone slab for a bridge was clearly the answer.  These elements are indigenous to Mount Desert.  That they also happen to be part and parcel of almost all the better Japanese work is perhaps accidental, but true.  Initially, the development of the design was a parallel rather than an imitative one.”


To utilize the hidden space at the back of the garden, which is not seem from the road, Savage wanted a surprise feature. He turned that somewhat flat area into a small sanded area that was an expression of a supplementary pool whose surface was covered with sand instead of water – something that is purely Japanese in its feeling.  The design for this sand garden (# 10 on map) was influenced by the well-known 16th century sand garden in Ryoanji Temple in Kyoto. Savage was first to point out, however, that his sand garden is but a suggestion of the original and is built on a curve to simulate the flowing stream. He did hope that it would somehow convey some of the same feeling of the original.


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.


Visitors interested in plants moved from Beatrix Farrand’s Reef Point garden should take notice of one of our oldest specimens -- the weeping hemlock just north of the main bridge.




Asticou Azalea Garden

3 Sound Drive

Northeast Harbor, ME  04662


(On the corner of Rte. 3 and Rte. 198

in Northeast Harbor)

 Tips for visiting:

  • The Garden is open seven days per week from sunrise to sunset, May through October (sometimes November depending on weather).

  • Suggested entrance donation of $5 per person.

  • Parking is limited.

  • Public restrooms are available and are wheelchair accessible.

  • Food or drink is not allowed.

  • Pets (except service animals) are not allowed.

  • Please limit cell phone conversations to outside the Garden area.

  • For group visits, please contact the Land and Garden Preserve at 207-276-3727.

  1. Main Gate

  2. Moss Corridor

  3. Sand Garden View

  4. Pebble Point

  5. South Bridge

  6. South Lawn

  7. Pine Mountainscape

  8. South Gate

  9. Lily Pond

  10. Sand Garden

  11. North Bridge

  12. North Lawn

  13. Streamside Garden

  14. Restroom

  15. Azalea Mountainscape

  16. Fall Color Planting

Land & Garden Preserve

PO Box 208   |   Seal Harbor, ME  04675   |   |   207.276.3727


Tax ID #23-7102758

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