New Plants in Old Spaces

Gardening, Horticulture, News

Here in Maine, we always look forward to spring and seeing new and returning plant life in the Gardens. But our seasons definitely play a part in how much, how little, how late, or how early those signs of spring arrive. This year, because of an unusual winter—unseasonably cold temperatures late in the season, followed by warm temperatures and then cold temperatures again, plus little snow coverage—you might notice some open spaces in the Gardens when you visit. 


Gardeners out there know how important a role winter plays in spring growth; limited snow coverage results in less insulation for hibernating plants, plus fluctuating temperatures and a late arrival of typical winter weather can all contribute to what plants survive.

You might also notice that the Gardens is not alone in this recent winter die-off. It’s happening across Maine—and across genera and age of plants, from grasses and sedges to ferns and other perennials, and both newer and older established garden spaces have been affected. This is as much a matter of exposure and location as it is weather—some plants on one end of a garden would survive while their counterparts at the other didn’t.

“In the Lerner Garden of the Five Senses we lost Matteuccia struthiopteris, ostrich fern, and various sedums. We were disappointed to lose some hellebores and Hydrangea paniculata, panicle hydrangea, in the Bibby and Harold Alfond Children’s Garden. Various grasses and sedges were especially hit hard throughout the Gardens,” says Andy Brand, Director of Horticulture.

While losing plants is always unfortunate, especially perennials that have been here seven or eight years, it’s left us with unexpectedly open areas, giving us the opportunity to thoughtfully choose and introduce new plantings.

Some of the new plants you can look forward to seeing in the Gardens when you visit are: Phlox divaricata ‘Blue Moon’, Cephalanthus occidentalis ‘Sugar Shack’, and Astrantia major ‘Vanilla Gorilla’.

Bouteluoa gracilis, ‘Blonde Ambition’ is an example of one of the grasses that looked beautiful this winter, but then didn’t come back this season. 

Alliums and baptisias are just two examples of the hardy and resilient plants we have coming in this season.