Tag Archives: Maine

NAX addendum

Top 10 things that did not make it in our garden visit blog posts:

10. The North End, Boston. The Fellows and Ed headed into Boston on Wednesday evening for dinner in the old Italian section of the city. It was restaurant week and the neighborhood was bustling. We happened upon a beautifully landscaped hotel along the waterfront and paused for a group photo. After a delicious Italian dinner in the loudest restaurant I’ve ever been in, we capped off the evening with cannoli and gelato.

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Cannoli from Mike’s in the North End.

9. Petunias. We learned at Arnold Arboretum that Dr. Lyons has a reputed affinity for gaudy petunias. He may or may not have pulled over the van in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, and jumped out to take photos of petunias and sweet potato vines growing at a local garden center.

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Be still, Dr. Lyons’ heart.

8. Lounge singers. They already got a mention in the blog, but they’re worth bringing up again. We were treated to the singing of two different lounge singers during our stay in Maine. The second one was for the memory books, as he serenaded us to the likes of Andrew Lloyd Weber, Puccini, Elton John, Willie Nelson, and Plain White Ts. Laurie and Josh, and about 20 septuagenarians, sang along and applauded his talents.

7. Boston streets. Need I say more? Even our GPS couldn’t figure out the streets. Even if we knew where we were going, the traffic lights were totally confusing. You’re sitting at a stop and notice that there are 5 different lights to choose from. 2 are green and 3 are red. Do we stop or go? I think we’re all relieved that we got home in one piece. (Yours truly was banished to the back seat of the van for being a back-seat driver too many times.)

6. New scientific names for plants. At Garden in the Woods, we discovered that the scientific names for plants are being revised again. Cornus florida is now Benthamidia florida. This created some controversy amongst the Fellows and Dr. Lyons and opened to the door to lively discussions in the van.

5. Composite flowers. Ed Broadbent, Head Gardener at Longwood Gardens, accompanied us on our trip as a chaperone. Ed was generally pretty quiet on the trip and not much seemed to phase him. We learned, however, on our last day that one thing that gets him riled up is too many composite flowers in the landscape. Apparently, he and Dr. Lyons argued about composite flowers late at night, then started again in the morning, and then brought it up with us in the van to get our opinions.

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An example of a composite flower

4. This van might tip. As we settled into the 13 passenger van that we would use the whole length of the trip, we were informed by the rental agent that the van could tip if we took turns too quickly. This information set off a running joke that still will not die.

“Dr. Lyons, slow down on this curve, the van might tip!”

“Really? I hadn’t heard that before. Did you say the van could tip over?”

“The rental guy did say to watch out for tippage.”

“I must be careful–the van could tip over.”

3. The amazing staff at all the gardens we visited. We are seriously indebted to Michael, Mark, Joanne, Dave, and Bill who took time out of their busy schedules to show us around and answer all of our questions. We are also grateful to the other executive directors and support staff to met with us as well. They were very candid and offered great insight and advice to us as emerging professionals.

2. Lobster rolls. Or should I say, lobstah rolls? Chunks of succulent lobster, a light dressing, topped by a garnish of greens, all encased in a toasted piece of bread. Simple, yet utterly delicious. A Maine staple, we sampled lobster rolls on two occasions. On the drive from Maine back to Boston, Laurie seriously considered jumping out of the van and running to a roadside stand to get one last roll.

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Lobstah roll at Coastal Maine BG

1. Longwood Graduate Program alumni. Andrew Gapiniski toured us all around Arnold Arboretum. Mark Richardson spent the day with us at Garden in the Woods and Bill Brumback spoke with us in the afternoon. Rodney Eason showed us his work at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. It was so great to meet with alumni and see them working in the field.

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Alumus Andrew Gapinski, Dr. Lyons, and Ed Broadbent at Arnold Arboretum

A Coastal Experience

Author: Robert Lyons, Director of the LGP
Photography: Lindsey Kerr and Laurie Metzger

The last leg of our North American Experience journey took us 3.5 hours north of Boston to the charming town of Boothbay Harbor, Maine.  To get there, our primary route out of Boston’s twisted and contorted system of complex intersections and rotaries was a familiar I-95.  Upon our arrival, we checked into the Tugboat Inn, a slightly enigmatic hotel that echoed into the evening with the voices of seasoned, anonymous lounge singers.

After a welcomed night sleep, we boarded the van on a glorious morning saturated by bright sun, clear blue skies, and crisp temperatures that beckoned a sweatshirt or long sleeves.  Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens (CMBG) was our destination and none of us had ever visited, making this destination greatly anticipated.  Upon our arrival, we met up with Executive Director Bill Cullina, who escorted us through their “net zero” LEEDDSC_0299 certified administration and education building.  Fascinating! We ended up in the conference room where Bill and his entourage of key staff introduced us to CMBG’s history, mission, current operations, and future plans. Their property is beautiful, and ironically became available for purchase when a developer abandoned plans for a subdivision and sold the 128 acres to the founders of what was to become CMBG. Today there are 298 total acres, 8000 members, 100,000 visitors/year, 31 permanent employees, 800 volunteers, and an annual operating budget of  $3.2 million.  While open year round, there is an entry fee from April 15 – October, with the remaining months free.

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We couldn’t wait to get outside and Bill readily obliged.  A quick pass through a recently renovated and bustling visitor center led us to the Burpee Kitchen Garden, which was DSC_0302cleverly integrated into the restaurant’s al fresco dining area.  What a concept…many of the same plants that were harvested for the menu grew within arm’s reach.  We were joined by Rodney Eason, former Longwood employee and now Director of Horticulture for CMBG. He and Bill guided us in tag team style through the green spaces and internal pathways, all bordered by artfully designed beds rampant with color or brushed with the diverse green shades of Maine’s natural vegetation. Our tour soon exited the cultivated spaces, including what we all determined was an ingenious approach to a children’s garden, and we found ourselves within a completely forested region dominated by conifers.  We were indeed close to the IMG_0524water and Bill was excited to show us the coastline.  We lingered there to catch our breath and take a group photograph before heading back to conclude our visit.Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens lived up to all the pre-visit hype and landed on our own wish list of places to see again as soon as we can!

 

 

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