Earlier this year, I was invited to write an article for Arnoldia, the quarterly magazine of the Arnold Arboretum, about the noted landscape designer, Beatrix Farrand, and her influence on what is now the Land & Garden Preserve. Ms. Farrand’s designs are a common thread among our different gardens and natural areas.
The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden is regularly cited as one of the best preserved examples of her landscape design. Also, thanks to Charles K. Savage’s insistence that Farrand’s plants be saved from her home, Reef Point, in Bar Harbor, a significant number of her selections formed the core of Asticou Azalea and Thuya Gardens’ original collections. Through research initiated several years ago by the Beatrix Farrand Society, we now have a better understanding of Ms. Farrand’s influence with the layout and planting of the carriage roads in both the Preserve and Acadia National Park.
After writing the article, which was featured in the summer 2022 edition of Arnoldia, the Azalea Garden’s longtime manager, Mary Roper, and I walked through the garden collection. Mary informed me that while Farrand’s plants might have formed the beginning of the garden, Savage added quite a few plants of his own selections to complete the garden. During Mary’s 30+ years of stewarding the garden, she has continuously adjusted and added plants to the composition.
What you see on display today, while it has had help from others, is largely a composition orchestrated by Savage, initially with Farrand’s rescued plants, and adjusted since 1989 by Mary. I bring this to your attention now as we segue into autumn because Asticou Azalea has two peak seasons – a floral peak in the spring and a foliage peak during fall.
Be sure to set aside time in the month or two ahead to catch the fall colors of the different azaleas and the various deciduous trees. Admittedly, the yellows, oranges, and reds of the Katsura tree, Cercidiphyllum japonicum, are among my favorite fall leaf colors.
By Rodney Eason, CEO