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Dig It! Garden Blog

What’s in Bloom – May 6, 2019

Tuesday, May 7th, 2019

Hellebores look amazing! Narcissus or daffodils are adding their bright, colorful blooms throughout the Gardens. Additional bulbs such as Hyacinthus, Muscari, and Chionodoxa are also painting the ground with shades of pink, blue, yellow, and white as we all eagerly await the tulip bonanza. And the early blooming magnolias are peaking!

Entrance Walk:
Cornus mas – cornelian cherry
Epimedium x rubrum – barrenwort
Hyacinthus orientalis ‘Gypsy Queen’ – hyacinth

Founders’ Grove:
Muscari latifolium – two-toned grape hyacinth

Lerner Garden of the Five Senses:
Caltha palustris – marsh marigold
Chionodoxa luciliae – glory-of-the-snow
Cornus mas ‘Golden Glory’ – cornelian cherry
Dicentra cucullaria – dutchman’s breeches
Eranthis hymenalis – winter aconite
Hamamelis vernalis ‘Amethyst’ – vernal witch hazel Read More

Creating Bird-Friendly Habitats

Thursday, April 25th, 2019

Creating a bird-friendly backyard habitat can be as low-maintenance as installing nesting boxes, bird feeders and a simple birdbath, or as involved as an entire backyard overhaul, complete with reducing the area of lawn, installing native plants and removing invasive plants from your property.

One of the more quickly rewarding options—for you and for the birds—is to plant a bird-friendly garden. First, though, it’s important (but fun!) to learn different birds’ preferences so you can figure out which plants you’d like to grow. Obviously, different plants provide for birds differently, depending on whether they’re grown for their seeds, fruit, nuts, nectar or as a hosting station for hungry insects (i.e. bird food). Read More

What’s in Bloom – April 23, 2019

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019

Early spring bulbs are showing nice color and hellebores are beginning to put on a show. Be sure to look for the bright yellow flowers of the cornelian cherry and the tiny, unusual flowers of Dirca palustris or leatherwood. This will also be the week to see the beautiful white flowers of the woodland native, Sanguinaria canadensis or bloodroot.

Entrance Walk:
Cornus mas – cornelian cherry
Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’ – witch hazel

Founder’s Grove:
Iris ‘Katharine Hodgkin’ – reticulated iris
Hamamelis vernalis – vernal witch hazel


Iris ‘Katharine Hodgkin’

Lerner garden of the Five Senses:
Cornus mas ‘Golden Glory’ – cornelian cherry
Eranthis hymenalis – winter aconite
Hamamelis vernalis and H. v. ‘Amethyst’ – vernal witch hazel
Read More

For the Love of Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Tuesday, April 16th, 2019

Perhaps we might be inclined to think of dandelions as weeds first and (maybe) as herbs second. But since, by definition, all herbs are weeds. But dandelions are more than just weeds (or herbs). More often than not, they’re the first flower of spring, and so hold a special place, both for the eye and for our body’s “spring cleaning” process.

Spring cleaning is an unwavering urge that comes over us as soon as the days start to lengthen—it’s definitely time to dust away the darkness of winter. The same applies to our bodies. During the cold months we conserve energy and naturally slow down; evolutionarily speaking, we just don’t get inspired to really move during the winter. Our metabolism slows down to conserve energy, food and warmth, so the detoxing organs (the liver and kidneys) get a little sluggish, too.

We can think of the urge to clean house as a manifestation of what’s going on inside our bodies—our winter-logged systems want that same kind of airing out. Enter dandelion, which helps support the body as it rids itself of stored metabolic wastes. Read More

Beautiful and Resilient Native Plants

Thursday, April 11th, 2019

In preparation for designing our parking lot gardens, CMBG horticulturist and landscape designer Jen Dunlap researched forest restoration and studied the process of naturalizing areas. She researched the species growing in Maine’s native forests, then branched out to add diversity to her design plans. The common denominator in all of her research was native plants.

As natural spaces dwindle, native insects, birds, amphibians and mammals lose their habitats. Here at the Gardens, we’re committed to using native plants in our landscaping in order to conserve biodiversity, contribute to a living landscape and to create pollination and migration corridors for animals and insects. Native species, already adapted to our particular growing conditions, work immediately toward restoring habitats for all creatures, regardless of where they fall on the food chain. Read More

Signs of the Seasons – Citizen-Science in Action

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens is once again teaming up with the University of Maine’s Cooperative Extension and Sea Grant to participate in Signs of the Seasons, a citizen-science program that engages volunteers in observing plant and animal phenology (the study of seasonal cycles and the timing of life events, such as when birds make their nests in the spring, when berries ripen in the summer, when leaves change color in the autumn, etc.). All kinds of creatures (humans included) depend on the predictability of these seasonal cycles.

But as we’re all aware, seasonal cycles seem to be shifting. That’s where we come in—using our backyards as laboratories, participants in the Signs of the Seasons program, by becoming trained to observe and record plants and animals living in our own communities, help scientists document the local effects of global climate change. Through their observations, volunteers create a detailed record of the region’s seasonal turns, a record that’s then made available to collaborating scientists.

As you probably know, farmers, gardeners, fishermen and naturalists have long recorded seasonal observations in their notebooks, logs and ledgers. When combined, those historical records plus modern observations tell scientists that shifts in long-term phenology trends closely match records of the earth’s warming temperature. Read More

Choosing the Right Plant for the Right Place

Friday, February 22nd, 2019

As a horticulturist at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, one of my most favorite “duties” is designing new annual plantings and tweaking existing combinations every year. The daughter of two very artistic parents, I grew up making art and creating, and went on to be a fine arts major in college. When it came time to graduate, my work in horticulture – both as a summer job in Maine and a work-study position in college – had taught me the pure joy of using plants as a living art medium. The artistic nature of the work was one of the major factors that compelled me to move into horticulture as a career.

At the Gardens, one of the more frequent remarks I hear from guests is how much they love the different combinations of plants used throughout our property. While each horticulturist has their own, unique way of designing, I hope to share a little insight into my process of choosing those plants and perhaps help to inspire you in your own gardens along the way! Read More

The Promise of Spring

Monday, February 11th, 2019

As I walked into the office this morning and looked at our desks, I had to smile. Peeking out from the heaping piles of Carharts, gloves, and scarves were bright glossy images of impossibly perfect flowers gracing the covers of innumerable catalogs. Ah the promise of spring, just as surely as snowdrops poking through the late winter snow. Read More

Fairy Houses Aglow

Thursday, December 13th, 2018

As you may or may not know, building fairy houses is a Maine tradition. We here at the Gardens celebrate those whimsical roots both in our Fairy Village and with the creative fairy houses built by staff every year for Gardens Aglow.
Read More

Making the Switch to LED Lights

Tuesday, December 11th, 2018

At Gardens Aglow, we use LED lights in our designs be-decking our gardens and encourage others to use them, too. Not only do they last longer, they’re more reliable, more robust, far brighter, and far more energy efficient than their traditional counterparts. But with the upfront cost so much higher than the old incandescents, are they worth the investment? Read More