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Dig It! Garden Blog

What’s in Bloom – August 12, 2019

Wednesday, August 14th, 2019

Coneflowers and August go hand in hand. The Echinacea and Rudbeckia are amazing this week. Be sure to look for the stunning scarlet Lobelia cardinalis or cardinal flower. Hummingbirds love them. Lilium selections look and smell amazing! The bottlebrush buckeye, a butterfly magnet, is in full flower. Hydrangea paniculata or peegee (panicle) hydrangea are in full bloom, showcasing huge white inflorescences.

Entrance Walk:
Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’ – giant hyssop
Aesculus parviflora – bottlebrush buckeye
Asclepias incarnata ‘Ice Ballet’ – swamp milkweed
Calycanthus ‘Aphrodite’ – sweetshrub
Calycanthus x raulstonii ‘Hartlage Wine’ – sweetshrub
Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’ – panicle hydrangea
Ligularia japonica – Japanese ligularia

Founders’ Grove and Café:
Hosta ‘Allan P. McConnel’ – hosta
Hydrangea arborescens ‘A. G. Anabelle’ – smooth hydrangea
Ligularia japonica – Japanese ligularia Read More

Deb Soule & Healing Root Remedies

Friday, August 2nd, 2019

If you’ve been to CMBG lately, then you know that this season we’re focusing our attention on the unseen with our theme, Roots: The Other Half of the Story.

Focusing on roots gives us lots of material to play with, and as a gardener and an herbalist, roots comprise both one of my favorite subjects and some of my favorite remedies. Why? Look at it this way—if roots serve as both larder for and custodian of their plants, imagine what they could do for our own network of systems.

In this opinion I’m certainly not alone—herbalists have long valued roots as both food and medicine. Herbalist Deb Soule, author, owner of Avena Botanicals, and a favorite teacher here at CMBG, talks beautifully about the subject in her latest book, How to Move Like a Gardener, a love note to the garden, the soil, and the magic and medicine that grows within it. Read More

What’s in Bloom – July 29, 2019

Monday, July 29th, 2019

Echinacea are looking great! Be sure to search out the Monarda or beebalm and watch for hummingbirds at the brightly colored flowers. The bottlebrush buckeye, a butterfly magnet, is beginning to bloom. Phlox are starting to put on quite a show too. Hydrangea paniculata or peegee (panicle) hydrangea are amazing and full of pollinators, as are the steely-blue flowers of the Eryngium or sea holly.

Entrance Walk:
Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’ – giant hyssop
Aesculus parviflora – bottlebrush buckeye
Calycanthus ‘Aphrodite’ – sweetshrub
Calycanthus x raulstonii ‘Hartlage Wine’ – sweetshrub
Daphne x transatlantica ‘BLAFRA’ – eternal fragrance daphne
Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Pee Wee’ – oakleaf hydrangea
Ligularia japonica – Japanese ligularia
Stachys officinalis ‘Hummelo’ – betony Read More

Sustainable, Regenerative and Perennial Agriculture

Thursday, July 18th, 2019

Every gardener is familiar with the day-in, day-out battle against weeds, the annual dance of prepping the soil, sowing seeds, and/or planting starts. It’s a lot of work—worthwhile, satisfying work—but what if we could make the shift from annuals to perennial crops that don’t need to be reseeded or replanted year after year? Imagine the time and resources that would save, from the annual prepping and plowing to the down-to-the-soil garden clean-up. Certainly, we’re already familiar with some perennial crops—fruit trees, grapes, asparagus, rhubarb, and olives, just to name a few. Read More

What’s in Bloom – July 18, 2019

Thursday, July 18th, 2019

Summer has arrived! Lots of sun means lots of flowers. Astilbes look fantastic this week! Roses are winding down but still some color and fragrance. Be sure to search out the Iris ensata or Japanese iris, and Eryngium or sea holly. The daylilies are kicking in to bloom and the Echinacea are beginning to show off their colorful blooms.
Highlights from specific gardens:

Entrance Walk:
Allium caeruleum – blue onion
Astilbe chinensis ‘Visions in Red’ – astilbe
Astilbe simplicifolia ‘Pink Lightning’ – astilbe
Calycanthus ‘Aphrodite’ – sweetshrub
Calycanthus x raulstonii ‘Hartlage Wine’ – sweetshrub
Daphne x transatlantica ‘BLAFRA’ – eternal fragrance daphne
Stachys officinalis ‘Hummelo’ – betony Read More

What’s in Bloom – May 28, 2019

Wednesday, May 29th, 2019

It’s amazing how a couple of 70 degree sunny days will result in gardens full of flowers. There are still some tulips in bloom. Epimediums, favorites for the woodland garden, are showing off their dainty blooms. And things are starting to pick up in the Giles Rhododendron and Perennial Garden. Both small and large leaved rhododendrons are either in bloom or will be shortly.

Entrance Walk:
Amsonia ciliata ‘Spring Sky’ – blue star
Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Cameo’ – flowering quince
Fothergilla major and ‘Mt. Airy’ – fothergilla
Narcissus ‘Sunny Girlfriend’ – daffodil
Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’ – variegated solomon’s seal
Rhododendron ‘Scintillation’ – rhododendron
Saruma henryi – upright wild ginger
Tiarella cordifolia var. cordifolia – foamflower
Tulipa ‘Beyond Baroque’ – tulip
Viburnum carlesii – Korean spice viburnum Read More

Tulip Maine-ia

Wednesday, May 29th, 2019

It’s been a long time coming, but despite a long, cool, and damp spring, tulip season has officially arrived at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. While the gray skies might make for vibrant tulip photo opportunities, unfortunately this weather also means conditions are perfect for uninvited fungal issues, leading to spotting and lesions on flowers and foliage alike. Long, rainy days notwithstanding, our tulips have persevered and their joyful, colorful blooms abound throughout the Gardens.

Last fall we planted over 40,000 tulip bulbs consisting of 73 cultivars and species, resulting in a kaleidoscope of colors and forms. Each of the different classes of tulips is represented, from simple Darwin hybrids to more elaborate parrot flowers. I am often asked what my favorite tulips are, and I’m pretty sure my answer changes each time. While every cultivar will be considered beautiful to someone, I have found a few that stand out above the others, at least until I take another stroll through the Gardens. Read More

For the Bees

Monday, May 20th, 2019

Most of us are probably aware of the importance of bees, from pollinating almost everything we eat to the production of honey, beeswax, pollen, royal jelly, and propolis. Bees are so vital and so fascinating, that they’ve been studied and connected to human society for thousands of years.

“All the great thinkers have become beekeepers,” says Erin MacGregor-Forbes, CMBG’s Chief Operating Officer, co-owner of Overland Apiaries, Chairman of the Eastern Apicultural Society (the largest noncommercial beekeeping society in the country), and guru of the Gardens’ apiary. Read More

What’s in Bloom – May 14, 2019

Tuesday, May 14th, 2019

A note from Andy Brand, curator of living collections: Tulips are starting to open and should be looking good if we get some warm weather this week. Narcissus (daffodils) are adding their bright, colorful blooms throughout the Gardens. Hellebores are still putting on a show. Additional bulbs such as Hyacinthus, Muscari, and Chionodoxa are also painting the ground with shades of pink, blue, yellow, and white. Be sure to check out the soft yellow flowers of Corylopsis glabrescens ‘Longwood Chimes’ in the Alfond Children’s Garden; they smell really yummy! And many small leaved rhododendrons are in bloom in the Giles Rhododendron and Perennial Garden.

Entrance Walk:
Epimedium x rubrum – barrenwort
Hyacinthus orientalis ‘Gypsy Queen’ – hyacinth
Narcissus ‘Sunny Girlfriend’ – daffodil
Saruma henryi – upright wild ginger

Lerner Garden of the Five Senses:
Caltha palustris – marsh marigold
Chionodoxa luciliae – glory-of-the-snow
Dicentra cucullaria (pink form) – dutchman’s breeches
Epimedium grandiflorum var. higoense ‘Bandit’ – barrenwort
Glaucidium palmatum – Japanese wood poppy
Helleborus multifidus ssp. hercegovinus – hellebore
Jeffersonia dubia – twin-leaf
Mertensia virginica – Virginia bluebells
Narcissus ‘Double Smiles’ – daffodil
Pieris floribunda – mountain fetterbush
Pulmonaria ‘Raspberry Splash’ – lungwort Read More

The Many Wonders of the Elder Plant (Sambucus nigra and Canadensis)

Wednesday, May 8th, 2019

Let me introduce you to elder, one of my favorite herbs of all time. Not only is this herb incredibly diverse, it’s also just plain beautiful (by the by, elderberries, if you didn’t know, make the most fabulous blue-purple dye).


Sambucus canadensis ‘Aurea’ Golden American Elderberry

Most people think elder plants are trees, but technically they’re shrubs. They tend to grow wild all along the East Coast, and even as far inland as the Central Plains. Here in Maine, you can probably just scavenge the surrounding woodlands for elder—if you know what you’re doing, you’ll find elder everywhere. In June and July, look for fragrant white flowers growing in flat, star-like clusters. The deep purple-black, blue, or dark red berries arrive in late summer. The stems are greenish brown and, when broken, reveal a white pith. Leaves grow opposite one another and have an uneven number of leaflets (usually 5 to 11). I’m sure you don’t need me to remind you to be sure you’re confident identifying elder before you go picking berries, or that you need permission if you’re not on your own land. Read More