The Garden Spotter

Getting “Hygge” in Maine


Garden Spotter Photo


Garden Advice: A Thought When Laying Out a Garden


img_0082 Ever notice that the best advice is often the briefest advice? No mincing words, no going on and on and on.

This was my exact thought when I came across (more…)

Garden Visit: The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden


abby aldrich rockefeller garden abby aldrich rockefeller garden The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden in Seal Harbor has been on my bucket list of Maine gardens to visit for several years, but I always seemed to miss the chance at winning a spot on their limited calendar. The garden, designed by the legendary landscape architect Beatrix Farrand for John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and his wife Abby Aldrich Rockefeller in the 1920’s, is open only for private tours on Thursdays from late July to mid September. So this year I felt like I won the lottery, because not only did I get a reservation, I was granted a visit on the year the U.S. National Park Service and nearby Acadia National Park were to celebrate their official centennial. (more…)

Garden Tours: 6 Tips for Visitors


garden tours Throughout the Maine summer, garden tours abound. One weekend may find you meandering through the historical estates of Camden, while another you might be touring the colorful urban garden plots of Munjoy Hill in Portland. (more…)

Small City Lot: No Longer Lacking Lilac


lilac Nothing beats the heady, powdery scent of lilac wafting through the air on a warm spring day. To me, it’s the definitive sign that winter is finally over, and summer is on its way. (more…)

6 Maine Seed Companies to Try


maine seed companies Johnny’s Selected Seeds display at the Common Ground Fair in Unity. Garden Spotter photo

When buying seeds for your flower or vegetable garden, it makes perfect sense to purchase them from local seed companies. After all, the seeds have probably been tested and approved for your particular zone and its many intricacies.

Where I live in Maine it is zone 6a, where average winter temperatures go as low as -5 Fahrenheit and the growing season is a short 180 days at most. High quality seeds that are suitable for the climate and conditions are essential.

Fortunately, we are lucky enough to have a number of reputable vegetable and flower seed sellers right in our own backyard, including five certified organic seed companies:

Johnny’s Selected Seeds – Johnny’s is perhaps Maine’s most recognized flower and vegetable seed brand, selling organic seed certified by the USDA and MOFGA, plus hybrid, heirloom and pelleted seed. It has fields and facilities in Albion, Fairfield and Winslow.

Fedco – Fedco is one of the few cooperative seed companies in the United States and, as such, tries to focus less on profits and more on quality product. It, too, is a certified organic seed company, specializing in cold hearty varieties and operating out of warehouses in Clinton. Fedco also sells trees, bulbs, moose tubers, and supplies.

Allen Sterling Lothrop – The oldest seed company in Maine, Allen Sterling Lothrop, first opened in 1911, is located on Rt. 1 in Falmouth, selling organic herb and vegetable seed, annual and perennial flower seed, wildflower seed and grass seed.

Pinetree Seeds – Opened in 1979, Pinetree Garden Seeds offers more than 1,300 varieties of seeds, including many heirloom and open pollinator types. The New Gloucester company says it has never sold any genetically altered seeds and never will. Some plants, bulbs, supplies and tools are also in stock.

Wood Prairie Farm – This small family farm in Bridgewater – “way up north” – sells certified organic potato seed, vegetable seed, herb seed, cover crop seed and supplies.

The Maine Potato Lady – It’s easy to guess the specialty of this Central Maine farm: certified seed. Fingerlings, onion sets, shallots and more are sold from this 100-acre farm, once part of a larger one dating to the 1600’s.

Spotted: Smoke on the Water


IMG_2353 Coastal New Englanders have an entire vocabulary to describe what happens on the water throughout the year. This morning in Bath, the temperature was -2 Fahrenheit, giving rise to “sea smoke” on the Kennebec River.  Sea smoke happens when cold air meets warm water, very similarly to what happens when steam rolls off a cup of hot tea. It’s a kind of fog.

This Valentine’s Day weekend, temperatures here in coastal Maine are expected to dip way, way down – possibly as low as 30 below. So, snuggle up, eat some chocolate, and stay away from that sea smoke.


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