Guardians of the Seeds
Guardians of the Seeds by Thomas Dambo

This summer, go all-in on an experience that will stick with you for the rest of your life. Included with regular Gardens admission, join us as we set the stage to focus on Maine’s woods, from their history to their sustainability. Danish artist Thomas Dambo’s magical, mysterious, and mammoth recycled-wood sculptures will anchor our efforts. This summer, our trolls will help you discover new ways to lose—and find—yourself in our forests.

Hidden throughout our native, natural wooded areas, these giant trolls wait to be unearthed. They’re friendly, but their message is something you’ll want to discover for yourself. Find our trolls and uncover the teachings they impart, then put all the clues together and learn the secret of Guardians of the Seeds. This is your chance to disconnect from the world, only to reconnect with the Earth.

Know Before You Go

Planning a visit to Guardians of the Seeds this season? Be prepared for your visit by checking out our trolls FAQ and visit information.

Teachings of the Trolls

Save Seeds & Plant More Trees

Forests keep us alive, and by remembering to save seeds and plant more trees, we can help keep them alive too.

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Reduce & Reuse

When we re-think the way we produce and consume, we do something more powerful than just eliminating our waste—we also eliminate the idea of waste.

Learn More

Discover & Share Stories of the Woods

We become better stewards of the environment when we get to know the nature in our communities. When you find things you love there, share them and help others expand their sense of wonder.

Learn More

Guardians of the Seeds 

Somewhere between the mountains and the rocky coast
lies a forest of pristine green, forgotten by most.
Deep in this forest is a secret place
with 10 golden seeds at the end of a maze.

They were hidden by five giant forest trolls
protecting each part of the forest so old.
It was told that the trolls spoke the tongue of the trees
and had sworn to protect them from war and disease.

Birk had roots. Roskva was wide as the trunks.
Gro was like the leaves, breathing life with her lungs.
Søren, like branches, would wave in the wind,
and Lilja, like the flowers, each year would spring.

The forest was ancient, had stood for millions of years,
but recently the trolls had seen just what they had feared.
Little people came plenty, across and over the seas,
to cut, fell, and break down tree after tree after tree.

So, in fear of a day when all the trees would be gone,
they collected every seed forever and on—
chestnut, cherry, elm, spruce, and hazel,
oak, ash, beech, birch, and, last, a little maple.

The five trolls then held around all of the seeds
and harder and harder they started to squeeze—
so hard that stars started flashing and shaking,
so hard the ground started rumbling and quaking.

Then 10 golden seeds appeared in a haze.
The trolls took them and hid them at the end of a maze,
where in secret and safe all the trees could grow tall,
Because a future with no trees is no future at all.

So, the question is now, do you want to help?
Because a secret is lost if kept to itself.
Please run, find the seeds, and hold them in your heart,
and if everything gets lost, you’ll know where to start.

 

The Great Story of the Little People & the Giant Trolls  

Thomas Dambo is considered the world’s leading recycled-materials artist, famous for his troll sculptures. Dambo’s pieces are staggering, and each sculpture simultaneously invites seekers into the depths of our woodlands while telling a story of conservation.

Per Dambo, “The project becomes an open-ended fuse that initiates wonder,” inspiring people to see the natural world through a whimsically different lens. Since Dambo’s work uses recycled materials, it reinforces the value of using what we have to create something new, while also pulling together people of many skills and backgrounds from throughout our community.

Artist Thomas Dambo smiling while sitting in front of masked giant troll sculpture.

Born in Odense, Denmark, Thomas Dambo lives and works in Copenhagen. Building and creating with wood since the age of five, Dambo has become one of the fastest-growing personalities in the Scandinavian art world. As a child, he would scavenge his neighborhood for discarded wood for his projects, carting it home on his bicycle. This childhood love of “treasure” hunting certainly foreshadowed his now global troll hunts.

A self-labeled, “recycle art activist,” his trolls are on the list of the most significant attractions in Denmark and can be found worldwide, not only telling a story of sustainability, but one of global connection. Dambo is creating a global village, one troll at a time.

With a belief that beauty can be found anywhere—especially in unexplored regions of our own backyards—his trolls are always hidden, but the diligent seeker (armed with the correct answer to a given riddle) will soon find them “hidden” in plain sight.

Dambo began this work in 2014 and has since created dozens of trolls now living in parks, green spaces, and woods around the world. CMBG’s trolls will join a community that dots the globe from Florida to Chicago, South Korea to China, Denmark to Puerto Rico to Belgium. Explore his world-wide story at www.trollmap.com.

Meet Our Trolls

Each one of our trolls represents a part of the tree and tells a story about why every part of the tree is important to the whole forest. Meet the Guardians of the Seeds, and learn more about each troll.

Forest Families: Support and Adaptation

The giant trolls guard their ten secret seeds, vital to preserving the forest’s biodiversity for future generations. But the trolls are more than guardians; they are also teachers. Forests are made up of interconnected individuals that rely on each other for survival. This diversity of species is not only good for the trees, but for all the thousands of birds, mammals, insects, reptiles, fungi, and amphibians that use the trees for food and shelter. The more species there are, the more protected from challenges like warming and disease forests will be. 

We have already lost two species of trees from our Maine woods—the American chestnut and the American elm. Both trees were once a vital part of everyday life, planted on farms and homesteads for their beauty. American chestnuts, stretching over 100 feet tall, were called “the redwoods of the East” and made up as much as a quarter of all trees in Eastern forests before the chestnut blight fungus decimated their numbers. Forested cities, graced by elms, were forever changed when Dutch elm disease spread across the country. When we lose trees, we lose stories and connections to a landscape. Unfortunately, we can’t always keep up with such threats—and now more trees, like our hemlocks and ashes, are at risk. What will the Maine woods of our future look like? Fortunately, our actions today can decide that.  

These trolls, with the benefit of their long lives—and the long view—have seen the consequences of such threats. They can help, but they can’t do this work alone. They need the help of “the little people” all over the world. Can you help?  Read more and learn more about the biodiversity the trolls are trying to protect in our blog posts below. 

A spotted salamander lays on moss.

What is Biodiversity?

With the help of our giant trolls, we can discover how crucial biodiversity is to the health of the forest and learn how to be better stewards of this important ecosystem. But what exactly is biodiversity and why does it matter?

Trees of the Trolls: Black Cherry

People often criticize the black cherries that show up uninvited in their landscapes. But let’s make a case for keeping, and even welcoming, these native trees.

Indigenous forest-gardens offer hope

Can humans have long-lasting positive effects on the environment? A new study led by Chelsey Geralda Armstrong at Simon Fraser University offers hope that perhaps human land use can have long-lasting positive effects after all.


 
Guardians of the Seeds is made possible by generous support from L.L.Bean, The Davis Family Foundation, Jane’s Trust, and an anonymous donor.
We continue to seek support for this extraordinary exhibit. If you are interested in becoming Guardians of the Seeds supporter, please contact Jen McKane.