Wild Gardens of Acadia is open for 60th year

By Faith DeAmbrose

With over 400 species of native plants, mimicking the flora and fauna found within Acadia National Park, the Wild Gardens of Acadia awoke from its winter slumber and is now putting on a show.

Normally open year-round, the gardens took a break during the winter as COVID-19 restrictions continued, but the doors swung open in late spring to welcome visitors for its 60th season. 

“Wild, but tended,” is how gardener Geneva Langley describes the roughly one-acre parcel that boasts 13 different micro habitats ranging from mountain to meadows. There are at least 22 species of ferns within the garden and there is always something blooming from spring to fall. 

The garden is maintained by a volunteer staff of about 20, with help from a paid gardener and a summer intern who are sponsored by the nonprofit Friends of Acadia. The garden, which is flanked by hiking trails, attracts nearly 500 people a day during the busy seasons.

It takes about six weeks to uncover and rehabilitate the gardens once winter subsides, said Langley, adding that volunteers can often be seen working while visitors meander through. 

In April, it is all about picking up sticks and addressing winter storm damage, said Langley. Some of the garden’s more tender plants are caged to keep wildlife out and those cages are removed once it is safe to do so. As the season progresses, volunteers tend to the garden habitats and even sow new plants as needed. 

In late spring and early summer, a stroll through the gardens yielded views of marsh marigolds, trillium, bluets, Jack-in-the- pulpit, wood anemone and pyrola, which were either in bloom or about to bloom. 

The gardens are open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. A one-way path throughout the garden has been established to direct visitors and to ensure social distancing measures can be followed. 

For more information about the gardens, nps.gov/places/wild-gardens-of-acadia.htm.