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My favorite view from White Head.
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The whole island has beautiful
views such as this!

Here in the horticulture department of Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, it may sometimes seem like all our staff does is work work work. While we love maintaining and keeping the gardens beautiful, we sometimes get an opportunity we can’t refuse. Yesterday, our unlikely opportunity lead the entire horticulture staff on a day trip to Monhegan Island. The morning drive to New Harbor to board the ferry was a foggy one and we were worried it would put a damper on our day. Luckily, the fog had burnt off by the time the island came into view and we were in for the most beautiful day I’ve seen in Maine to date.

As many of you know, Monhegan is well known for its scenic vistas and endless hiking trails. Being the naive Midwesterner who’s never been on a “real” hike before, I figured we would be walking up some small hills on very well-preserved trails. I definitely was in for a rude awakening. We were hiking up huge boulders, climbing steep inclines, sidestepping all the large tree roots and doing our best not to slip on the slick rocks. I half expected everyone to be going somewhat slower because of these precarious conditions – wrong again! Everyone on the horticulture staff, regardless of age, was keeping the same (and rather brisk) pace throughout the day. Because of our quicker-than-usual pace, we got to see many more beautiful sites than the average day-visitor would get to see. Just looking at the pictures doesn’t do it justice; I would highly recommend planning a trip and hiking the trails for yourself.

In addition to hiking until our legs were sore, we experienced many other beautiful areas of Monhegan. We took a captivating walk through the Cathedral Woods, which the horticulture interns decided looked like something out of the Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings movies. We got to see the entire island from the very top of the Monhegan lighthouse and learn the interesting history behind it. The element that was most interesting to us, though, was seeing all the vegetation on the island and how it differed from the Gardens’ manicured plantings. A few of the blooming plants we encountered on the island were Trifolium arvense (rabbit’s foot clover), Epilobium angustifolium (fireweed), Platanthera grandiflora (purple fringed orchis) and Euphrasia nemorosa (eyebright). Even though we were all utterly exhausted by the end of the day, it was a trip that I’m sure none of us will ever forget.

-Carrington Flatness, Horticulture Intern (8/2/2013)