Scabiosa atropurpurea ‘Black Knight’ is one of the prettiest, juiciest of deep purples flowers – perfect for cut flower arrangements. CMBG seeds are available for sale at the front desk. – Diane, horticulturist
So happy for this little bit of the rain, the luscious, Hibiscus syriacus ‘Notwoodthree’ and I are soaking it all up! The bees don’t seem phased at all and these overcast skies are great for taking pictures in the garden. Check out this gorgeous Rose of Sharon in the Alfond Childrn’s Garden. – Jen, horticulturist
Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ is blooming profusely in the Giles Rhododendron Garden. See it in person on the top tier, and still see the waterfall below! – Dan, horticulturist
The pink globes of Allium ‘Millenium’ (Ornamental Onion) on the Cleaver Event Lawn have caught the attention of our honeybees! I’m not sure I would’ve noticed the camouflaged bees had I not heard the buzz- can you find them all in the photo? – Anna, horticulturist
Silphium albiflorum (White Rosinweed) is in bloom this week. A Texas native, it is a little rare and unusual in this neck of the woods. – Will, horticulturist
Nearby in the Giles Rhododendron Garden, Astilbe chinensis ‘Veronica Klose’ is in full bloom. A nice splash of later season color! – Dan, horticulturist
Have to share a picture of this knockout combo on the Rainbow Terrace. Green Ball Dianthus, Crambe maritima, and Gomphrena ‘Bicolor Rose’ with the decorative seed heads of Eucomis ‘Sparkling Burgundy’ peaking through the foreground. I’m in love! – Jen, horticulturist
A brand new plant is blooming in the Perennial and Rose Garden! Eucomis ‘Oakhurst,’ the very aptly commonly called Pineapple Lily, has a wonderfully interesting flower stalk. This plant is supposedly marginally hardy, so fingers crossed this is its first year of many! – Syretha, horticulturist
Nasturtium majus ‘Spitfire’ is ‘abooming and ‘ablooming out of the pots in the kitchen garden; covered with blooms. We sell CMBG seeds of these, too! – Diane, horticulturist
While it’s easy to focus on the colorful flowers, be sure to stop and see the more subtle plants and flowers, such as this Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Stricta’) in the Great Lawn Ledge Bed. Looks especially great with the Black-Eyed Susan growing amongst it! – Syretha, horticulturist
Hosta ‘Whirlwind’ and other cultivars are in bloom now in the Rhododendron Garden. While generally considered foliage plants, delicate lavender and/or white flowers crown these stalwart, leafy mounds. – Dan, horticulturist
There are so many great plants blooming in the gardens this time of year that it’s hard to choose only one. Since I must, let’s take a moment to appreciate the beautiful and unusual Malope trifida with its edible blossoms. Such a gorgeous shade of magenta! Find it in the Cottage Garden section of the Bibby and Harold Alfond Children’s Garden. – Jen, horticulturist
I recently had the pleasure of teaching a class about plants that are rare in the wild here in Maine, yet are easily accessible for study in the cultivated collection here in our Gardens. One of the wonderful things about working and teaching at a botanical garden is that plants of disparate habitats and ranges are brought together so they can be studied, observed, and compared to other plants more easily. This, in fact, was one of the original reasons early botanical gardens were established.
During our day together, I was able to introduce students to twenty-four plants that are rare in Maine or elsewhere in New England. While (especially to a botanist) there’s nothing as special as seeing a rare species in its own habitat in the wild, it’s nonetheless very instructive and fascinating to learn to recognize a rare species in cultivation. Not to mention – it’s super-efficient to observe and learn a species from a salt marsh, an evergreen seepage swamp, dry rocky barrens, and rich mesic forest all in one afternoon!
Here are some examples of rare plants we saw here at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens during our class:
Iris prismatica detail, (c) dogtooth77
Slender Blue Flag (Iris prismatica; Maine State Status: Threatened) graces a wet swale of the Haney Hillside Garden. In the wild, it’s found at the upper reaches of salt marshes in southern Maine and southward.
New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus; Maine State Status: Threatened) growing along the sunny edge Birch Allee. In the wild, it grows on dry sandy banks, balds and in open woodlands in southern Maine and southward.
Showy Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium reginae; Maine State Status: Special Concern) is thriving along the edge of the Slater Forest Pond. In the wild, it’s found in non-acidic peatlands and mossy woodlands.
Male Fern (Dryopteris filix-mas; Maine State Status: Endangered) at the edge of the Haney Hillside Garden’s path. In the wild, it grows in rich glades and rocky slopes of Maine’s interior forests.
Please join us for more opportunities to learn about the rare plants of Maine during our year celebrating “Rare and Extraordinary Plants!” Coming up next, Maine Natural Areas Program botanist Don Cameron will lead a trip to see the rare North Blazing Star (Liatris novae-angliae; Maine State Status: Endangered) in glorious bloom at the Kennebunk Plains Preserve on August 30th.
— Melissa Cullina, director of education
Please note: Our cultivated rare plants are never collected from the wild; rather, we purchased responsibly-propagated stock.
What surprised me most of all and is totally cool – the purple tinted Ammi majus ‘Dara’ that is growing in the Great Lawn bed, facing the café windows. Really unusual. – Courtney, campaign coordinator
A very special rarity has started blooming in the Perennial and Rose Garden Bed leading to the Children’s Garden. Be sure to walk the terrace loop rather than cutting down the stairs to the whales to catch this beauty. Verateum nigrum, Black False Hellebore. An unusual beauty indeed! – Syretha, horticulturist
The Echinacea ‘Hot Papaya’ on the Great Lawn by the rocks are such a deep, beautiful color. – Emily, philanthropy assistant
One of my favorite foxgloves is Digitalis ferruginea, the rusty foxglove. The idea of rust does not do this plant justice as the peachy, creamy color is divine! Perfect for a vertical element and attractive to pollinators this plant is an excellent choice for your garden. Watch as bumble bees and hummingbirds vie for a chance to collect nectar from the tubular blossoms in the Alfond Children’s Garden. – Jen, horticulturist
Bachelors buttons (Centaurea cyanus) are such soft and sweetly wild little flowers! I caught these ones on a cloudy rainy day and they just looked so friendly, nodding their heads into the pathway in the Lerner Garden to greet me! – Jo, guest services & front desk coordinator
Looking beautiful in the Great Lawn Ledge Bed at the moment is a new addition to CMBG – Lupinus ‘My Castle,’ a lovely pinkish red perennial lupine. Here’s hoping it seeds in everywhere! – Syretha, horticulturist
The loveliest little clematis is the Clematis ‘Rooguchi.’ With its dainty, dark purple, bell-shaped flowers and long season of bloom, you will find it pairs well with the deep yellows and oranges of Rudbeckia and Helenium. Left to ramble at its own free will or trained on a trellis, you won’t be disappointed with this wonderful member of the family Ranunculaceae. Find it on your journey through the Bibby and Harold Alfond Children’s Garden. – Jen, horticulturist
I love this Tithonia diversifolia in the Children’s Garden because it stands out in the garden with its bright color and pollinators love it, especially the monarchs. When fully mature, it will stand 5-6 ft. tall. – Erika, Youth and Family Coordinator
Lavender is one of my all-time favorite aromatic herbs. This planting of ‘Hidcote’ (Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’) in the Bibby and Harold Alfond Children’s Garden is stunning as the flowers begin to open. In fact, the best time to collect lavender flowers is just before they open. Stash a bundle under your pillow or steep in the tub for a nice calming and relaxing effect. – Jen, horticulturist
In the Great Lawn East Bed (closest to the Lerner Garden entrance arch), be sure to check out the stunning Papaver somneriferum ‘Black Peony,’ an opium poppy cultivar. While the plants themselves are annual, opium poppies self seed readily, and the seeds are easily saved for sowing in the spring. This variety is supposed to be a double, but has proven to be a lovely mix or double and single flowers! – Syretha, horticulturist
Don’t miss the different varieties of milkweed blooming out front of the Bosarge Family Education Center – it’s crawling with happy pollinators, like these honey bees! – Erin, CFO (and Master Beekeeper)
This Dryopteris crassirhizoma (Thick-stemmed Wood Fern) is very cool and ancient looking in the Lerner Garden. It’s interesting to think that some form of fern existed in the Cretaceous Period some 360 million years ago, even if it wasn’t this variety. – Tina, IT coordinator
I’m so excited about this little gem of a plant, Cistus ‘Bicolor Pink!’ It is in full bloom, tucked carefully away in the Overlook section of the Rose and Perennial Garden. I added these Mediterranean natives to our collection in 2014 and am enamored with the fact that they over wintered! Check them out because they may not be here forever. – Jen, horticulturist
This beautiful bee balm (Monarda bradburiana) is low maintenance and uniquely beautiful, making it my personal favorite. Its leaves can be made into tea, and it also attracts many pollinators, including bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Found around the Burpee Kitchen Garden Terrace. – Sarah, social media marketing intern
It is incredibly important to grow enough milkweed to support and grow monarch populations. Milkweed comes in many varieties, and is the only food source for monarch caterpillars. Not only are the leaves essential for monarch caterpillar growth, but the flowers help nourish the adult butterflies as well. The amount of wild milkweed has declined in past years, and horticulturists and home gardeners alike have been working to restore it. This past year, there were less than 275,000 monarchs overwintering in Mexico, and that number was even further reduced by a late winter storm. By comparison, the most recent peak year of 1997 had over 1.2 million monarchs overwintering in the Mexican forest. Increasingly, researchers are finding: no milkweed, no monarchs.
The native species of milkweed in the Northeast that we are propagating here at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens are swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), orange milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa), and common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). Horticulturist and propagator Dan Robarts is growing large amounts of these three varieties, in addition to experimenting with some small numbers of other beautiful – if not native – varieties.