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  • Writer's pictureLand & Garden Preserve

Shared experiences with our southern neighbors

The Preserve makes it a priority to ensure that our garden staff have experiences beyond our gardens to gain perspective and skills from their colleagues who are caring for other landscapes, and to share their own knowledge. This past spring, two gardeners from Thuya Garden spent valuable time with their counterparts at a variety of gardens and public spaces. They returned to the Preserve motivated and inspired.


Wendy Dolliver, Head Gardener, Thuya Garden

During the week of August 15, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit five organizations in Massachusetts that share and protect beautiful natural landscapes. Despite their distance from Mount Desert Island, the Preserve has a great deal in common with these places. I appreciated the time I spent with the staff at each location.

Ecologically-minded gardening was evident at all these landscapes. Some are changing their approach to planting garden spaces and even grave site surfaces by reducing lawn and converting it to perennials and native plantings. Others are raising different species of moths such as Cecropia moth and Polyphemus moth, providing accommodations for them to thrive, and offering education to the visitors about the moth life cycle and the conservation process.

Drought took a toll this season on some of these properties, with a few experiencing their third growing season with drought conditions. Despite this, pockets of wonderful lush oases could be found within them, especially at Asa Gray Garden at Mount Auburn. Most staff are making plans to deal with the challenges of drought. At the cemetery and arboretum they are undertaking projects to install irrigation systems. I saw some amazing creative plantings and approaches in response to the changing climate as well as the increased understanding of the importance of supporting biodiversity in our landscapes.


Margaret Handville, Woodland Gardener, Thuya Garden

My trip to Chanticleer as a guest gardener for three weeks in April was one of the most memorable and enriching experiences of my life. I stayed on the grounds at The Chanticleer House that dates back to the early twentieth century. While there, I worked alongside seven horticulturists and their supporting crews. They talked with me about their roles in the garden, challenges they face, materials they use, and how they focus their aesthetics.

This garden, as the motto goes, really is a pleasure garden. With all its quirks it touches each one of the senses in ways that ground you to that time and place. The trip gave me tremendous inspiration, and I could not wait to get my hands in the dirt as soon as I got back to Thuya Garden in May.

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