In the Great Lawn East and Ledge beds Muhlenbergia ‘Muhlarbor’ (also known as Muhly Grass) is at its peak. The ethereal seed heads almost make one want to crawl into the bed and curl upon on its softness! – Syretha, horticulturist
Verbena bonariensis illuminated in the fall garden! These volunteers seeded themselves around the Bibby and Harold Alfond Children’s Garden. – Jen, horticulturist
Symphyotrichum novae-angliae ‘Vibrant Dome’ New England Aster: This beauty has a purple flower that when the sun hits it just right, it looks light blue which adds great color to the fall landscape! – Sarah, public horticulture intern
Shout out this week to the fabulous Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Fox Trot’ along the outer edge of the Cleaver Event Lawn – the seed heads are very reminiscent of fox tails, hence the cultivar name. – Syretha, horticulturist
Symphyotrichum novae-angliae ‘Chilly Winds’ (New England Aster) is blooming near the bridge in the Lerner Garden. – Will, horticulturist
The gentian (Gentiana scabra var. buergeri) in the Children’s Garden provides gorgeous late season color with this vibrant shade of blue. – Tory, marketing content coordinator
It’s that time of the year for grasses! Along the outer border of the Perennial and Rose Garden it’s hard to miss the very statuesque Miscanthus sinensis ‘Dixieland,’ a variegated Japanese Silver Grass that easily grows over 10 feet (including seed heads). This time of year the heads have fully opened and turned a wonderful silver-red. Plus this grass is a wonderful winter interest plant that, if left standing, can add structure to a garden all the way until spring. – Syretha, horticulturist
Orostachys iwarenge, better known as Dunce Caps, is beginning to bloom on the Rainbow Terrace in the Bibby and Harold Alfond Children’s Garden. – Jen, horticulturist
In the Great Lawn North Bed (closest to the Burpee Kitchen Garden), be sure to walk on the lawn to check out a new addition to our permanent collection, Chrysanthemum ‘Matchsticks,’ a hardy perennial mum. It boasts a plethora of flowers and funky, spoon-like petals. A very fun cultivar indeed! – Syretha, horticulturist
Check out the Cardoons (Cynara cardunculus), reaching over 5’ tall and just beginning to bloom at the edge of the Cleaver Event Lawn. This relative of the globe artichoke has edible leave stalks versus meaty flower heads. – Anna, horticulturist
In both the Lerner Garden of the Five Senses and its neighbor Slater Forest Pond, the Lobelia siphilitica (Great Blue Lobelia) is looking beautiful! One of our Rare and Extraordinary Plants this year, it has not been found growing wild in the state for many years. Considered critically imperiled in much of New England, it couldn’t be happier here at CMBG! Come see this beauty for yourself! – Syretha, horticulturist
Chelone lyonii ‘Hot Lips’ (Turtlehead) is one of my favorite late season flowering plants. With a name like ‘Hot Lips’, what’s not to love? Check it out in the Slater Forest Pond Garden. – Will, horticulturist
The Showy Mountain Ash (Sorbus decora) is a native to Maine that produces berries, which change to a red-orange color as fall begins. Located by the Bosarge Family Education Center. – Sarah, public horticulture intern
In the Great Lawn Ledge Bed, be sure to check out the Butterfly Bushes in full bloom! Beloved by honey bees as well as butterflies, these plants make a great late summer bloom addition to any sun garden. Here you see Buddleja davidii ‘Attraction’ on the left and Buddleja davidii ‘Potter’s Purple’ on the right. – Syretha, horticulturist
This is the lovely Euphorbia marginata ‘Mt. Snow.’ We grew this attractive annual from seed this year that was purchased through Johnny’s Selected Seed of Maine. The pure white variegation is a wonderful accent in the garden and it makes a long-lasting cut flower. Find it growing around the Bibby and Harold Alfond Children’s Garden. – Jen, horticulturist
One can’t do a plant pick right now without mentioning the spectacular Hibiscus ‘Midnight Marvel.’ Yes, it is perennial! No, it does not need to be dug up and stored over the winter! And yes, it dies fully back to the ground every winter! A true visual marvel indeed, right out through the Visitor Center doors on the Great Lawn. – Syretha, horticulturist
Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Double Click Cranberry’ is gorgeous in the Burpee Kitchen Garden. – Diane, horticulturist
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
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 Daucus carota ‘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