1 Here I am at the Asticou Azalea Garden in Northeast Harbor. Designed as a classic Japanese garden, these grounds are lovely all year long, but when the azaleas are blooming in the spring, it is extraordinarily gorgeous.
2 The tall leaning tree is an example of cloud pruning, or niwaki, where certain limbs are removed to create a unique form. Niwaki is the Japanese word for 'garden trees' and used often to describe "sculpting trees".
3 Asticou Azalea Garden was built for relaxation and contemplation. I always enjoy visiting the garden whenever I am in Maine. For more information, visit the web site. http://gardenpreserve.org/index.html
4 Azaleas are members of the genus Rhododendron with two distinct varieties: evergreen and deciduous. They are also flowering shrubs in the Ericaceae family, which includes blueberries and mountain laurel. In total, there are 16 native varieties and 50-hybrids.
5 Azaleas have five to six stamens in their flowers. Evergreen azaleas range in color from purple to red and deciduous azalea flowers range in color from white to pink to yellow to red.
6 Azaleas have shallow roots, and require well-drained, acidic soil in order to do well. Plant height ranges from about three to six feet for most varieties, but rare plants can range from under one foot to well over 15-feet tall.
7 Fothergilla gardenii is a moisture loving, acid soil requiring compact shrub. It displays showy white and green flowers in mid-spring. This does well in full sun to full shade. It's tolerant of wet sites but not of dry conditions partially because of its shallow root systems.
8 This "sand garden" built along the eastern edge of the stream at Asticou, uses rocks and raked sand to suggest islands surrounded by flowing water. The sandy area is offered to visitors as places for quiet contemplation.
9 Gardens of raked sand and stone are referred to as karesansui, which means dry landscape, gardens in Japan.
10 One of the garden's main attractions is its balance of natural and man made beauty. The combination of natural vegetation, stones and water, along with the plantings create a wonderful blend of east and west.
11 Benches are strategically placed throughout the garden, so visitors may sit and reflect along the meandering pathways.
12 One of my favorite stops in Bar Harbor is Down East Lobster Pound, where I always enjoy the best lobster rolls, coleslaw and corn.
13 Three of my guests for the weekend included photographer, Douglas Friedman, Hannah Milman and Kate Berry.
14 Kate also brought her husband, Ian, and her daughter, Quinn.
15 Back at Skylands, here I am working on a huge locally caught halibut. We all enjoyed this fish the entire weekend.
16 I love seafood - this fish weighed more than 50-pounds.
17 Another favorite activity when I go to Maine - hiking. I always make it a point to do several good hikes while I am there.
We all wake up bright and early to start - it's a good way to see the sights and to earn a big, delicious breakfast.
18 Here I am with our good friend, Douglas.
19 Here are Hannah, Douglas, Kate and Kevin Sharkey.
20 After our hike, we returned to Skylands for a good breakfast including, of course, the freshest eggs from my chickens at my Bedford, New York farm.
21 Eggs, bacon, toast - so delicious.
22 Before beginning my traditional "planting of the terraces" project, I like to stop in at Surry Gardens Nursery to pick up last minute plants. Surry Gardens is a premier full service greenhouse and nursery company in the Downeast Maine region. http://www.surrygardens.com
23 Here I am in one of the Surry greenhouses - I can't wait to do some planting.
24 Along the way, we stopped at a tag sale. There were so many things packed into one small house.
25 Tables were filled with vintage tableware, lamps, and other small items. The floors were also covered with quilts and blankets - all for sale.
26 Shelves had figurines in all sizes, shapes and themes.
27 There were hundreds of dolls for sale also.
28 Remember the Cabbage Patch Kids? Did you have one of these whimsical soft sculptured dolls?
29 Many dolls were still in their original boxes, making them much more valuable to collectors.
30 Here I am in one of the rooms with a couple of purchase items - hard to resist a good, old fashioned tag sale.
31 It looks like Douglas and Kevin did some shopping as well.
32 For one of our lunches, we enjoyed Cuban sandwiches. Kate and I had lots of fun making them, while Quinn took photos. I bring a lot of ingredients up from Bedford and freeze them for use at Skylands.
33 From above - all the delicious ingredients for our sandwiches, including @davidchang slow roasted pork loin, @schallerweber Swedish ham, cheese, my own homemade pickles, our favorite @balthazarbakery Pain du Siegle bread, @hellmans mayonnaise, dijon mustard, @vermontcreamery butter, and roasted red peppers.
34 Cheryl du Long, who works for me at Skylands, hand knitted these fun socks and sold them. firstname.lastname@example.org
35 She made adult pairs and infant sized socks.
36 I brought lots of delicious asparagus from my farm to enjoy up at Maine - so big and flavorful - everyone loved them.
37 The asparagus went with our lobster dinner. This lobster also came from Downeast Lobster in Trenton, Maine.
38 I also made crab cakes - they were absolutely delicious. The crab came from Parson’s Lobster in Bar Harbor, a family owned business run by Debbie Parsons. http://parsons-lobsters.com
39 Here they are sizzling on the skillet.
40 Pink margaritas were enjoyed at the end of the day.
41 I had two giant urns brought up to Maine from Bedford. Here is Fernando holding on to one of them as it is lowered to the ground. It weighs several hundred pounds.
42 They look great flanking the front door at Skylands - here they are all planted with ferns.
43 The big leaf plants are Birds of Paradise palms - all brought up from Bedford - they can be a real showpiece in any landscape.
44 The driveways and all the carriage roads at Skylands are covered with finely crushed pink granite stone. This is my circular driveway at the front entrance.
45 The pink gravel looks so pretty against the lush green foliage. This driveway is in front of a new house called Ox Ledge, which I will restore.
46 Inside, Kate and Kevin worked on a gorgeous lilac flower arrangement - I grow many varieties of lilacs. They are so beautiful and fragrant.
47 The planting of my terraces is always a fun activity. Here is one container with a silver blue agave and some smaller succulents.
48 This is Rhapis excelsa, also known as Broadleaf Lady Palm or "The Lady Palm". It is a species in the genus Rhapis, native to southern China and Taiwan. Rhapis adapts to a wide range of climates, soils, and environments, and can grow to more than 14-feet in height.
49 This large square lead pot was planted with agave and the easy-to-care for plant, senecio.
50 Everyone helps to plant all the urns on the terrace.
51 My friend, Terre Blair, and Hannah, planting another large container.
52 Kate's daughter, Quinn, loves the sphinxes that "guard" the terrace.
53 I took a short break to check work emails - what did we ever do without technology?
54 After we finished planting all the pots and urns, I gave everything a good, deep drink.
55 Here is a view into the woodlands - so serene.
56 Here's a view of my terrace with many of the urns planted. It looks so wonderful. It's a lot of work to plant everything in just a couple of days, but it's a weekend I look forward to every year.