The history of the Mount Desert Land & Garden Preserve began when David and Peggy Rockefeller formed the Island Foundation as a means to provide in perpetuity for the private gardens and lands they so deeply cared about. In 1970, at the request of the Town of Mount Desert, the Island Foundation incorporated in order to take on the additional management responsibilities of the Asticou Azalea Garden. In 1999, Thuya Garden and Lodge, Asticou Terraces and Asticou Landing also came under the management of the Foundation, and in 2007 its name was changed to the Mount Desert Land & Garden Preserve. Today, the Preserve manages and cares for approx. 1,683 acres of historic gardens, lands, and trails for the enjoyment of all visitors.
Both the Asticou Azalea Garden and Thuya Garden were designed and created by Charles K. Savage, a talented landscape designer and life-long resident of Northeast Harbor. In 1956, with financial support from John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Savage was able to purchase most of renowned American landscape designer Beatrix Farrand’s plant collection from her Reef Point Estate in Bar Harbor. Her collection became the backbone of both the Azalea Garden and Thuya Garden on which Savage used his vision and creativity to build the gardens we see today.
From the Archives