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Posts Tagged ‘The Georges River Land Trust

Turkey Tracks: Gardens in the Watershed: The Dorolenna Farm

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Turkey Tracks:  August 23, 2013

Gardens in the Watershed:

The Dorolenna Farm

This farm was Giovanna McCarthy’s and my last stop on this years Gardens in the Watershed Tour, hosted and planned by The Georges River Land Trust.

In every garden, Giovanna and I learned so much more than each of us–both avid gardeners–knew.  Our creativity was sparked, and we both went home feeling we had spent our day quite well.

Andrew and Victoria Marshall have owned this 250-acre farm for seven years.  It’s beautiful land, with a mixture of forest and pasture.  The homestead dates to 1840 and is one of the few remaining farmsteads of the “Frye Mountain community which populated the area until the 1930s.

Dorolenna Farm is “certified organic and produces vegetables, tree fruit, pasture-raised poultry, cut flowers, and forest products for local markets.”

The barn is GORGEOUS.  (I love barns.)  The Marshalls built the barn in 2009 from wood harvested, milled, and cut on their farm.  The barn was raised on-site.  (Wish I’d been there.)

Here’s a picture of what must be the original part of the house–on the right.

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Here’s a long at the house and how it spreads out against the hill.  The barn is on the other side of the house, and I did not get a picture of it.   By this time of the day, Giovanna and I were tired and hot, and I, at least, got lazy with my camera.  I think I was a little on overload at this point too.

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Pastured poultry is one of the farm’s crops.  That process happens in stages where each chicken cohort gets raised together through all the steps until time for harvest.  There were chicken tractors out on the pasture holding the different age groups.  These would get moved every day so that the chickens have access to fresh grass, bugs, and are out of their own poop.   And the tractors protect them from predators.

Here are a group of babies just starting out:


It’s so fun to watch baby chickens at this age.  They eat, run around, then flop down in a pile to sleep for a bit.

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The chicken barn is on the road to the house, so one walks along the road that winds through forest.  You can see the old rock wall where the early settlers cleared this land and planted it.  Rock walls like this one are frequently seen in Maine woods–reminders of another era.

The gardens around the house were quite lovely.  Here’s my favorite shot of delphiniums against the sky:

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Fields near the house were planted to potatoes–which make a beautiful, richly colored green plant that has blooms.

Turkey Tracks: Gardens in the Watershed: Atkinson/Stich Successional Garden

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Turkey Tracks:  August 21, 2013

Successional Garden of Bo Atkinson and Alda Stich

The Atkinson/Stich Successional Garden has been forty-two years in the making.  Bo builds the alternative structures and Alda creates the fragrant perennial flower collections–fields of them.   A friend told me Alda did all the flowers for one of her children’s wedding–and that they were lovely.  Alda pioneered regional sales of fragrant perennial flower collections.

Out on the road, Bo has put up a sign that attempts to explain his structures:

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And here is the whimsical outer wall on the road through which the visitor passes:

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I wish my grandchildren had been with me for this garden visit.  They, as I did, would have loved it:


Here’s the view of the house, which sits just beyond the wall:

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I loved this curved woodwork.


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The back of the house has a grape-vine covered verandah that is cool and inviting–especially on the very hot day when we came to this garden.  People had gathered there to visit and enjoy one another.


This garden is designed to work with nature, not against it.  And Bo’s structures attempt the same goal.  Here is the building to the right of the house where seedlings are nurtured and protected:

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Both Bo and Alda work to encourage local bird, frog and beneficial insect habitats.  There was a small pond with an arching bridge that led to a structure on the left side of the property.  Paths snaked through Alda’s fields of flowers.  I left feeling that these folks were living in concert with their surroundings–and that whatever they did to the land were attempts to enhance its natural habits.

Turkey Tracks: Gardens in the Watershed: Garden of Linda and John Shepard

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Turkey Tracks:  August 14, 2013

Gardens in the Watershed:  Garden of LInda and John Shepard

The Shepard garden is spectacular–bursting with colorful beds, smooth green lawn paths, fruit trees, and vegetable gardens.  The fields leading to the garden are filled with wildflowers–which have been spectacular this summer.

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Also important is the fact that Linda Shepard is a quilter with an established body of very fine work and a studio to showcase it.  You can just see Giovanna inside Linda’s studio.

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Linda’s quilts are featured and sold on her web site–and I encourage you to go there and take a look at her interesting, inventive body of work:  www.linda-shepard.com.

Meanwhile, here are a few of her quilts–though my pictures of them are not great:

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And one of my very favorites, a happy pig:

Honarable mention

Linda and John started their garden in 1984–at which time the backyard was overgrown and wild except for four old apple trees.  Artist LInda likes “the relaxed informality of country gardens” which includes contrasting heights and rampant color.  Here are some views:

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And this pic of a very pink hydrangea!

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This garden is such a gift of beauty–it feels like the essence of summer with its riot of color, its buzzing bees, and its well-tended vegetables.

Turkey Tracks: Gardens in the Wateshed: Fernwood Nursery Gardens

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Trukey Tracks:  August 13, 2013

Gardens in the Watershed:  Fernwood Nursery Gardens

I’m starting my tenth year in Maine, and I’ve never been to the famous Fernwood Nursery until this garden tour, planned and hosted by The Georges River Land Trust.  Fernwood is owned by Rick and Denise Sawyer, so the site is their home as well as their business.

Fernwood specializes in shade tolerant plants. yes, but in native and woodland plants that are hardy to this area of Maine.  The Sawyers choose plants that do not need staking, spraying, or extra mulch to survive our climate.  They also produce their own cultivars and bring in plants from around the world that are hardy in this area.

They recently relocated, and I really like their new digs.  I found myself wishing that I had FLAT land where I could exhale and create beds and animal spaces like Rick and Denise Sawyer have created at Fernwood.  I loved everything I saw–and then some.  Such creativity, such delights for the eyes.

Again, Fernwood displays the Sawyers’ chosen life style:  their beds illustrate how their plants fit into the ecosystem in which they live and have created by choosing the plants that will thrive in the ecosystem.  They raise animals for food and fiber and organic vegetables.  They are providing for themselves and demonstrating how to do that.  Here’s a quote:  “Whether it is the wood we burn, animals we  raise, vegetables we grow, fiber we process, or soil we build, all contribute to our sense of connection to the earth.”

Here’s how the nursery is set up–this area lies at the entrance to the property.

Fernwood Gardens

And here are random shots as I moved deeper into this experience:

These kinds of wooden garden structures are a big thing in Maine:


Deep shade plants with garden sculptures–note the contrast of dark and light plants:

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A stone garden sculpture:

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Near the center of the property the Sawyer died wool is displayed:

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Here’s a close-up–which makes my fingers itch to knit…

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An arched trellis leads towards the house and the home gardens:

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Here’s the surprise just inside the trellis:

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A stand of Bee Balm sits before the house:

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And a gate gives entrance to one of the vegetable gardens–I wish I had been taking pictures of beautiful old gates all along the way actually…

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How’s this for a fabulous scarecrow?

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Bird houses punctuated the whole homestead:

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My pictures of the chickens did not come out–and the pigs went into their house just as I tried to capture them with my camera.

But here’s a picture I liked a lot:

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These figures carved from tree sections are seen frequently in Maine and always make me smile.

Fernwood and the Sawyers were an inspiration for me.

Turkey Tracks: Gardens in the Watershed: Hobbs Farm Greenery

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Turkey Tracks:  August 13, 2013

Gardens in the Watershed:  Hobbs Farm Greenery

Who knew that the largest grower of scented geraniums, or pelargoniums, is a stone throw from my house.

Hobbs Farm is a family owned business that has been in Hope, Maine, for 150 years.  The family now raises 270 varieties of geraniums, many of which have scented leaves–as in peppermint, lemon, rose, and Lady Mary.  Some repel mosquitoes.  They also grow stellar geraniums with colorful foliage, notched leaves, star-shaped flowers, cactus flowers, rosebud, gold leaf, miniatures, and dwarfs.

I was astonished at the variety of the foliage and the flowers before I reread the farm’s description.

Here’s Giovanna standing in front of amazing tomato plants in raised beds.

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Here’s the VERY long greenhouse:

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And here’s some pics I snapped of unusual plants and flowers:

This one’s flowers look like fairy flowers…


Single flower that looks like an impatiens almost:

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Look at the unusual flower form here of the orange flower.

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Geraniums now have a whole new meaning for me.  It’s kind of like the problem with food, isn’t it?  We’ve settled for a few potato, tomato, bean, etc., varieties, when there are actually so many other kinds, each with different attributes.

Thanks for the education, Hobbs Farm Greenery!