Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Behind A Garden Wall: Ecotat Gardens and Arboretum

As stated on the Ecotat Gardens and Arboretum website, "The mission of Ecotat Trust is to preserve and expand the gardens and trails for the enjoyment and use of future generations. The name 'Ecotat' was formed by combining portions of the words 'ecological' and 'habitat' - words describing the 91 acres of land located on Route 2 in Hermon, Maine, at the intersection with Annis Road at the top of Miller Hill." With that information, a Google map and GPS in hand, we found it.

CityProfile describes the Ecotat Gardens and Arboretum as "one of the most beautiful gardens in Maine." That's stretching it a lot. It's a former homestead, a small place maintained by volunteers. More volunteers are apparently needed. The place appears run-down, but there is some charm, somewhat like exploring a great-aunt's back yard out in the country. Lovely perennials mixed with grass and weeds, like irises with dandelions and lamiastrum with poison ivy, and ferns spread beneath trees and around old farm tools.

She would be an imaginative aunt. The landscape features a fairy garden with small plants and statuary. A raised bed presents a miniature landscape with a fairy house made of a tree knot, carved and roofed, with steps to a winding gravel path. The path leads through mosses, miniature spruces and tiny forbs to an itty-bitty gazebo, its roof caved in.

Comfrey, lupines, false solomon's seal, convallaria, tulips and johnny-jump-ups, european ginger, pig-squeak and blood-root seem to grow where ever they want, or where ever they were dropped or planted. As with any old homestead, you'll find bird houses atop leaning poles, arbors and some appealing statuary. Someone even included an allee or two.

A couple of trails wind through ferny woods and skunk cabbage. Somewhere along Tom's Trail, it's plain where Tom stopped working a long time ago, leaving his gloves and buckets of debris to mold. From that point, the trail is not so well-defined. Though we walked on a bit, growing swarms of mosquitoes forced us back.

Ecotat Gardens and Arboretum is definitely a work in progress going on eighteen-plus years. Progress is slow. Blog readers who live in the area might consider contacting Ecotat to volunteer their services. Many of the links on the Ecotat Home Page don't function, but the phone numbers might work.

After taking a few more photos, we strolled through a decrepit apple orchard, the ground littered with fallen apple petals to the car.

Would I recommend you visit Ecotat Gardens and Arboretum? Sure. It's sweet and nostalgic, kind of like stepping back in time to visit your old aunt.

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Scheherazade said...

I like going back in time. I had heard about Maine being the place for fairy houses. What, I wonder, do they do in winter when snow and ice cover the little abodes?

Unknown said...

Good article! Ecotat is a good place for a picnic or game of Frisbee. If you go in the summer take wearable mosquito netting, though.