July to September, the perennial beds are
at their peak and attract some 10,000 visitors each year.
Back down the hillside and a quar-ter-mile along Peabody Drive is the Asticou Azalea Garden. The Eastern yin to
the English yang of Thuya, it is the Japanese garden Savage created with Beatrix
Farrand’s crabapple and evergreen trees
along with her rhododendrons, azaleas,
Savage never traveled to Japan, but
pictures of temple gardens there reminded
him of the way pitch pines grow over granite outcroppings atop the mountains of
Mount Desert Island. From former marshland, he created a large pond and small
reflecting pool. He installed upright stones
and a granite-slab bridge and designed a
circular path through a series of verdant
spaces. In a prominent central area, he
planted a massive Sargent’s weeping hemlock, one of Farrand’s prize specimens.
In a haven full of gorgeous vistas, one
of the most stunning is a space modeled
after the Zen rock garden at Kyoto’s Ryo-anji temple. This gem is fashioned from
white sand, a low wall made of flat, black
stone slabs, accents of red roof tiles, and
lichen-flecked boulders. It is hidden from
view, even when walking the garden paths.
Once found, however, it offers a bench from
which visitors can contemplate the elements of design, the nature of beauty, and
the everlasting and ever-changing qualities
The Asticou Azalea Garden is at the
intersection of routes 198 and 3 (Peabody Drive)
in Northeast Harbor. Thuya Garden, Asticou
Terraces, and Thuya Lodge are a half-mile to the
southeast on Route 3. All are owned by the
Mount Desert Land & Garden Preserve,
gardenpreserve.org; 207-276-3727. Thuya Lodge
is open daily, 10 a.m. to 4: 30 p.m., late June
through September. The gardens are open daily,
7 a.m. to 7 p.m., late May through mid-October.
Gardens and trails may be accessed throughout
the year, weather permitting. A contribution is
suggested, but not required, for admission.