Annual Garden Symposium
Annual Garden Symposium

Annual Garden Symposium

Transformation: Landscapes Redefined

Join Sir Tim Smit, Marta McDowell, and Denise and Rick Sawyer


14th Annual Garden Symposium - Transformation: Landscapes Redefined

with Sir Tim Smit, Marta McDowell, and Denise and Rick Sawyer
Thursday, June 21
9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

In this year of transformation at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, our 14th Annual Garden Symposium explores the concept of transformation in the landscape. This year, we feature a world-class lineup of speakers celebrating the transformative power of gardens. Our exploration spans the international to the local, including an inspiring story of a homestead and nursery right here in MidCoast Maine. Join us for an unforgettable around-the-world tour, from Maine’s Fernwood Nursery to Marta McDowell’s hunt for lost gardens in New Jersey, then landing at the world-renowned Eden Project and Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall, England. Along the way, explore how the simple act of transforming a landscape has the power to inspire our community and daily life—a perfect mirror to the transformation of our own Gardens.


The Eden Project and The Lost Gardens of Heligan
with Sir Tim Smit

Sir Tim Smit is best known for his achievements in Cornwall, England. He “discovered” and then restored The Lost Gardens of Heligan with John Nelson, now one of the UK’s most-loved gardens. Tim is also Executive Vice-Chairman and Co-founder of the multi-award winning Eden Project. Since its opening in 2001, 19 million people have come to witness a once-sterile pit become a cradle of life, containing world-class horticulture and startling architecture symbolic of human endeavor. Eden is proud of its success in changing people’s perception of the potential for and the application of science, of communicating and interpreting scientific concepts through art, drama, and storytelling, as well as living up to its mission to take a pivotal role in local regeneration.

Then and Now: A Hunt For Historic Gardens
with Marta McDowell

In a tribute to the Garden State, Marta McDowell will lead a virtual exploration of New Jersey’s historical garden estates, an exploration that began with a “visiting gardens” list, circa 1928, discovered in the Morris County Park Commission archives. Miss Caroline Foster drew up the list for the Garden Club of Morristown, and eighty years later Marta McDowell (and friends) tracked down those properties and a few more for good measure. What did they look like then? Have they survived? How do these estates speak to society’s interest and priorities as culture and industry shift? Come find out on this entertaining, informative hunt for the treasures of our gardening past.

Fernwood: The Story of a Maine Nursery and Homestead
with Denise and Rick Sawyer

Come learn about the twenty-year transformation of their Montville property from cutover land to a living landscape, now featuring food and perennial plants as well as livestock raised for meat and fiber—all while allowing the surrounding woodland habitat to continue to grow and flourish. Their philosophy is one of self-sufficiency and sustainability, and their property is an example of how a small piece of land and an intention to live lightly grew and transformed into the home and business that exists today.


Our Speakers

Sir Tim Smit

In January 2011, Sir Tim Smit was appointed an honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE) by Her Majesty the Queen. Tim was voted ‘Great Briton of 2007’ in the Environment category of the Morgan Stanley Great Britons Awards, and in 2011 Tim was given a special award at the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. Tim is also Executive Chairman for Eden Project International which aims to have an Eden Project on every habited continent by 2025.

Marta McDowell

Marta McDowell lives, writes and gardens in Chatham, New Jersey. She teaches landscape history and horticulture at the New York Botanical Garden, where she has twice been named Instructor of the Year, and consults for private clients and public gardens. Timber Press has published her recent books, including 2017’s The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Frontier Landscapes that Inspired the Little House Books. All the Presidents’ Gardens made The New York Times Best-Sellers List and won an American Horticultural Society book award in 2017.

Denise and Rick Sawyer

Denise and Rick Sawyer both hail from a long line of farmers and share an agricultural background. For several decades, they have been the owners and operators of Fernwood Nursery & Gardens in Montville, Maine. Together, they propagate one of the largest collections of shade-tolerant plants in New England, including Maine natives as well as plants from other parts of the world proven to flourish in Maine.