The gardens of Susan Conard in Northport. Courtesy of Susan Conard

NORTHPORT – The gardens of Piper Stream Farm in Northport provide food for the table, a feast for the eyes, and a habitat for birds and bees. And that is balm for the soul of U.S. Forestry Service veteran Susan Conard, who retired to the Maine MidCoast from Washington, DC, in 2009 longing for wide open spaces.

Conard’s ambitious gardens at 35 Piper Stream Road in Northport will be open to the public Friday, Aug. 5 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., rain or shine, as part of the Belfast Garden Club’s seasonal celebration of area gardens Fridays through Aug. 26. Admission is $5.

Conard’s mostly forested 30-acre property was once a deer farm. “What was built to keep deer in now keeps them out of our 1,500-square-foot vegetable garden and 25-tree orchard,” Conard says. 

Conard employs a greenhouse for warm season vegetables like tomatoes and cucumbers and, through experimentation, has found that others grow best on her home’s large deck. Her perennial gardens populate her expansive lawn in large and small islands.

In early August, blooming varieties will include hosta, milkweed, black-eyed Susan, Joe Pye weed, Echinacea, Liatris, lilies, daisies, goldenrod, bee balm, cardinal flower, hummingbird mint and Filipendula (queen of the prairie). The University of Maine certified Conard’s garden as “Pollinator-Friendly” this year.

Initially Conard and her husband owned 50 contiguous acres. Last year, they donated 20 acres to the Coastal Mountains Land Trust, so “that its scenic and ecological values would be preserved,” Conard says. Soon there will be a marked public trail along Piper Stream.

For the complete Open Garden Days schedule, visit Proceeds fund the garden club’s school programs, camp scholarships, library donations, and Belfast’s public gardens.