BOOTHBAY— If it’s rain, clouds or sunshine this weekend, it doesn’t matter. Mainers will be able to get into Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay for free this Saturday through Monday, May 26-28, the only time this perk is offered during the year.
“We know that it is sometimes hard to be a tourist in your own state, so we wanted to give everyone the opportunity to explore the great resource that we have here in Boothbay,” said Marketing Director Kris Folsom. “We sometimes take for granted what we have and don’t always take time to enjoy the places that people from all over the world come here for. We offer Maine Days to remind people to come in for free and experience the gardens before the busy season hits.”
A little history: The botanical gardens started as a grassroots project with a number of Midcoast founders putting their homes up for collateral in order to buy 128 acres and tidal shore in Boothbay. They spent 16 years to plan, plant and and build upon the pristine land in 1996.
They opened Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens to the public in 1997 and in the following years, they’ve managed to acquire more tidal shoreland, bringing the total number of acres currently to 295.
Folsom said that children and teens often the ones motivating their parents to come on Maine Days, rather than the other way around. “Actually, a lot of kids introduce the gardens to their parents,” she said. “We have a lot of school groups that come through all year. Then, the kids come home and share with their parents how much they enjoyed it and want to take their parents back to see it on Maine Days.”
Folsom said there are a number of new highlights that visitors will enjoy this season. “We have a brand new Visitor’s Center this year and from there, a new bridge has been built to get to gardens. We are still in the process of creating the gardens around the Visitor’s Center, but they will be our largest garden to date.”
Something new that will enchant everyone this year: a new indoor butterfly garden. “We are in the process of putting up the butterfly house to open June 1 and while it won’t be open yet for Maine Days, people will be able to get a sneak peek and look from the windows inside,” said Folsom. “We are just starting to have all stages of butterflies and witnessed butterflies laying eggs within the house this week.”
Memorial Day Weekend is historically the kick off to summer.
“Right now the temperatures are looking great for this weekend,” she said. “We’re not sure if it will rain; but we’re Mainers. We get our raincoat and boots on and we know how to spend time outside.”
“People get tons of inspiration for their own gardens walking through here,” she said. “ And the plants are beginning to fill in with the hardscape. You’ll also see how water features can be integrated into the garden. One of the most frequent comments I hear is ‘I would have never thought to put those two colors together.’”
This weekend, Folsom said the tulips, hyacinth and Iris are at peak bloom, but visitors can also expect to see narcissus/daffodils, magnolia, rhododendron, and Azalea in peak bloom, among others.
To check out in real time what flowers and plants will be at their peak when you visit, check out their blog: florafind.mainegardens.org/ecmweb/FindFlowersMobile1.html
For more information about the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens visit: mainegardens.org
To gain free entry, visitor's must produce a valid Maine driver’s licenses or ID.
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org