View two gardens in Brooks at the Belfast Garden Club’s Aug. 21 Open Gardens Day. Jeanne and Art Shea’s garden at 44 McTaggert Street is a peaceful retreat on 5.7 acres. Ray and Nancy Quimby live on a farm at 21 Quimby Road, where they grow flowers and vegetables. The gardens will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., rain or shine. $5 admission covers both gardens (checks or exact change is appreciated); additional donations to support the Garden Club are also welcome. To protect Open Garden visitors, volunteers, and homeowners during the current COVID situation, everyone is asked to wear face masks and to maintain appropriate physical distancing. Hand sanitizer and masks will be available for those who cannot bring their own.
The Sheas bought their property in 2016 from Mary Kivel, whose gardens had been included on previous tours. Jeanne began revitalizing the extensive beds and making them her own—a true labor of love. They include a large hillside garden, a rose garden, daylily beds, hosta beds, and shade gardens. The property also features a birch grove and woodland paths, and visitors are invited to walk on the path around the pond and down to Marsh Stream. The path passes by “Sarah’s tube greenhouse,” which overflows with lush organic vegetables and snapdragons. Sarah, the Sheas’ tenant, introduced them to this new way of growing organic vegetables and extending Maine’s short growing season.
The Quimby’s farmstead has been in Ray’s family since his grandfather bought the property in 1890. Ray and Nancy do most of the work themselves, although family members are nearby when extra hands are required. There are four gardens to explore: the north garden, orchard garden, corn garden, and sawmill garden. The real excitement in the Quimby’s flower gardens are numerous varieties of dahlias. Nancy favors plants that hold meaning for her; her first dahlia tubers were from her grandmother. She often has music playing in the potting shed, which the birds enjoy signing to most days. Despite the work, it’s obvious the Quimbys care deeply for the environment that enriches their lives.
The Belfast Garden Club has promoted public gardens and stimulated the knowledge and love of gardening for more than 90 years. Proceeds from fundraising support local public gardens and several scholarship funds. For more information, visit www.BelfastGardenClub.org.