My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Vacation: Asticou Terraces & Thuya Garden

Vacation Day #4 continued...

(Here's a Thuya map in case you'd like to follow along!)

After our tour of Asticou Azalea Gardens, we walked down the road a short distance and came upon this lovely property with its little arbor and flowers and pretty view of Northeast Harbor...

A harbor arbor. :-)

As if living in a spot like that weren't paradisical enough, that property was located about midway between Asticou Azalea Garden and Thuya Garden, just 1/2 mile apart. Thuya Garden is where we were headed, but first we took advantage of another pretty view of Northeast Harbor...

BW was all grins whenever there were sailboats nearby,
anticipating our first sailing adventure in a few days!

We approached Thuya Garden the way the sailors do - by climbing the Asticou Terraces via the Terrace Trail. The entire 140-acre preserve that includes the Asticou Landing, Asticou Terraces, Thuya Garden and Thuya Lodge was once the property of Joseph Henry Curtis, a Boston landscape architect and civil engineer who summered in Northeast Harbor from 1880 until he died in 1928. He gave his estate in trust to the citizens of Mount Desert Island and it (as well as Asticou Azalea Garden) is now owned and operated by the non-profit Mount Desert Land & Garden Preserve. (Admission was free, though donation boxes were available at each garden for a modest suggested donation).
While BW enjoyed the view from the trail down below, I climbed the path to the Joseph H. Curtis memorial, which pretty much consisted of this stone set into the wall of one of the terraces...

1841 Joseph Henry Curtis 1928
Landscape Architect
Vigilant protector of these hills
The Asticou Terraces are his gift
for the quiet recreation of the people
of this town and their summer guests

Along the terraces were various lookouts. We enjoyed a quiet interlude at this one, and BW had to be pulled away from his longing gaze at the pretty view of the sailboats in the harbor below...

What is life if, full of care,
we have no time to stand and stare?
~W.H. Davies, "Leisure," 1911

At the top of the terraces is Thuya Lodge, the home built by Curtis in 1916. We walked by it and headed straight for the garden, which you enter through these amazing, ornate cedar and mahogany gates, which were hand-carved by Augustus Phillips and Charles K. Savage. (It was Savage who also created Thuya Garden in 1958, and Asticou Garden two years earlier). The Lodge and grounds were named for the area's abundant stands of northern white cedar, Thuya (or Thuja) occidentalis, which I figure must be the source of the cedar gate...

And now let's enjoy another stroll through another beautiful garden, what say?

Thuya Garden is located on land that was once Joseph Curtis' orchard, and there is still a very old (more than a century old!) and ailing apple tree there, at which BW stops to pay homage...

A little sign hanging from one of the low branches said a team of certified arborists were working hard to save the tree, and that it was recovering nicely, so please don't be tormenting it (or words to that effect!) So we spoke encouraging words to it. :-)

Of course the flower gardens ~ backed up to an indigenous forest, overlooking the harbor, and being tended by several gardeners while we were there ~ were spectacular...

I'm fairly certain these tall purple flowers are delphiniums...

Though I've learned my Wyoming wildflowers well, when it comes to cultivated garden varieties I often flounder. I loved the vivid color of these beautiful red blooms ~ anyone know what they are? If I had to guess (which I do, lol), I'd go with Cosmos...

(Yes, all the flowers had identifying garden markers and no,
I didn't write them down or photograph them. My bad!)

Another mystery flower! Any guesses?

I think it looks like a pompom or a pincushion... or maybe like one of those nasty pink coconut-and-rubber covered chocolate cakey snowball things with the white filling that we used to eat when we were kids, only much prettier and less full of toxic chemicals. (Oh, don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about or that you didn't eat them too! Remember how we'd pull all the rubbery pink gunk off the chocolate cake part first? If you didn't eat the rubbery pink part, you most likely wadded it up into a grubby, gummy ball and chucked it at one of your friends, didn't you? ;-)

Ah, now this one I do know! A gorgeous Zinnia...

And a knockout Dahlia...

The garden had a ton of different Dahlias in bloom and I wish I'd noted the names of the varieties I photographed (along with the other flowers!) I picked up this list of all the flowers and varieties in the garden, but didn't find it very helpful for identifying my photos when I got home. Oh well, guess I'll just have to go back there again for a do-over! ;-)

Another of the stunning Dahlias...

(Another of my favorite photos from our trip!)

Don't hurry, don't worry.
You're only here for a short visit.
So be sure to stop and smell the flowers.
~Walter C. Hagen (1892-1969)

Please feel free to linger here in the garden a while before we head back to Acadia and Bar Harbor to finish out July 1st. (I told you we had a lot planned for that day!) :-)


  1. There are so many sailboats out on the harbor! We get quite a few on Lake Michigan, but not nearly that many. Very cool! I can imagine how excited BW was about taking one out. :)

    Those lookouts look very cool as do the gates. I love how they carved the gates!

    I'm embarassed to admit that I have a really hard time identifying flowers. My way of naming them results in "that fluffy purple one". :o Although, I do know a few by sight.

    Once again, everything looks absolutely gorgeous there!

  2. Hi, Molly!

    Yes, there were lots of sailboats moored (and sailing) in the various harbors we visited! Sure was pretty to see. It was good sailing weather most of the time we were there.

    Those gates were really fun! What talent those men had!

    You and Susan and I should collaborate on a book we could title, "Flower Identification Guide for Nonchalant Flower Lovers." So far we have the "Don King Hairdo Flower," "The Rubbery Pink Snowball Cake Flower," and "That Fluffy Purple One." LOL!

  3. See, now those names of flowers I could remember! lol

  4. Did you happen to get a photo of the rock lookout on the terraces? We were just there this morning without our cameras and wanted to remember how it is built.

  5. Molly - See? I think there's a niche market for a book like that, and we'd have a best seller on our hands! ;-)

    dennimccolm - Oh, lucky you to be there this morning! (But bad luck not having your cameras with you!) I'm afraid the only lookout I photographed was the wooden one on my post. Is this the one you're talking about? If that's it and you're needing a better photo of it, you could try checking these search results for photos of the Asticou Terraces on Flickr. There are 4 pages' worth (and definitely some of that stone lookout) - so maybe someone got a photo you'll find helpful! Good luck and enjoy the rest of your day (or vacation!) there!

  6. dennimccolm - Sorry, for some reason that first link won't work for me now that my comment is published. So here again is the photo I was trying to share.

  7. Wow, everything is so beautiful. The harbor looks amazing with all those sail boats and the gardens also look wonderful. I love the arbor harbor.

    I agree with your guess on the cosmos...that would be my guess too. The pom pom flower looks like an allium seed head to me...but I don't see allium listed on the Thuya flower who knows?

    I remember those snoball things...but I didn't like least the ones I remember... because they had marshmallow in, and I never liked marshmallow for some reason.

    Lovely photos of lovely places.

  8. What a gorgeous place!! I, as you, could stroll in a flower garden for hours on end. Great pics, by the way. That one flower could be a pincushion, OR maybe an allium...not sure. Loved that pic of BW in front of the bay...what scenery. Tell BW he posed nicely, but I liked the other stuff better ;-)~. Glad you liked the rainbow pics I sent. Yes, the sky was a funky color that evening.

  9. Rose - I'm glad you enjoyed this post's collection of photos. I think this was my favorite one to work on so far! It was such a pretty day to spend in such a pretty place!

    Thanks for weighing in on my Cosmos guess! I still haven't figured out the snowball flower. It was - if recollection serves - about 3-4" across and very tall. I should just write to them and ask!

    I've never been a big fan of marshmallow either (except when burnt to a crisp over a campfire or in Rice Krispy treats as a kid - I'm sure I'd find them cloying now!), so have not been tempted to try any vegan ones.

    Spud - It was indeed a gorgeous place, you'd love it! And to have it just a pretty 1/2 mile walk from Asticou Azalea Garden and across from that beautiful harbor - wow. That was a lot of beautiful packed into a small geographic area! :-)

    I've studied a ton of Pincushion flowers in the Google images search, and don't think that's quite it. For one thing, they're described as about 1" across, and this was much larger. And this one doesn't have the "pins" sticking out. I'm thinking it might be a Globe Thistle, but even that doesn't look exactly like this one - and I can't find a color match. As I said to Rose, I may just have to get the answer from the Thuya experts! :-)

    If either you or Rose would like to see the full size original photo, let me know and I'll email it to you.

  10. I so wish I could have been with you on this day; and since I have NO memory, I'm an amazing note taker, and I might have even been useful! I love the idea of the the flower book for the nonchalant flower lovers. I thought the purple ones you called delphiniums looked like rock candy on a stick so how about the "purple rock candy" flower for that one?
    My favorite part of the blog was the part about Joseph Curtis. Thanks for the writing in the words on his gravestone as it was hard to read. I think what he did was so wonderful and of course it helps that he was a civil engineer - you have to love that about him! What a gift he bestowed on the world - very inspiring!

  11. Jo - You'd have been great fun to have along even if you couldn't take a note to save your life (and you would have enjoyed Thuya immensely!), but no doubt - your note-taking talents would have been very useful! So where were you when we needed you?! ;-)

    Those flowers do indeed look like purple rock candy on a stick!! So we'll definitely add your name to our Nonchalant Nomenclature book! :-)

    I mainly included Joseph Curtis' memorial photo for you, since you share the civil engineering profession! So I'm very glad that was your favorite part! His was an incredible, generous and inspiring gift indeed! How I'd love to leave behind a legacy that beautiful and peaceful and all-around enjoyable, and how I appreciate those who can and do!

  12. How sweet of you to think of me when you select your photos for the blog! Thanks very much!


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  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman

There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"

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