The Wild Gardens of Acadia
Photo of Mixed Woods © 2018 Steven L. Markos
In contrast to the more formal gardens in the area, like Asticou Azalea and Thuya, the Wild Gardens of Acadia are… well, wild. Meaning that they include only those plants indigenous (native) to Mount Desert Island. That leaves out clover, daisies, lupines, rugosa roses, and yarrow, but opens the way for bearberry, bog asters, columbine, jack in the pulpit, pitcher plants, shadbush, and white baneberry, among many others.
Just under an acre of mostly blackberry bushes was cleared for the gardens back in 1961, and the Bar Harbor Garden Club in conjunction with Acadia National Park has operated them since then. As a living field guide that offers a condensed sampling of the island’s natural habitats, the gardens show off examples of twelve Down East plant communities: mixed woods, roadside, meadow, mountain, heath, seaside, brookside, bird thicket, coniferous woods, bog, marsh, and pond. More than 300 native species, arranged in separate display areas, are labeled to make identification easy for visitors.
As the John Keats quote says on the sign at the entrance, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” The Wild Gardens, open year round from dawn to dusk, are a thing of beauty located in the Sieur de Monts Spring area of Acadia, adjacent to the national park’s Nature Center. Admission is free.
The Wild Gardens of Acadia is located at the Sieur de Monts area of Acadia National Park. The entrance is on Route 3 approximately 2 miles south of Bar Harbor’s Village Green. The Island Explorer‘s “Sand Beach/Blackwoods” and “Loop Road” routes both stop at Sieur de Monts.
The best season to visit the Gardens is May through October, when habitat signs and plant labels are in place. The rest of the year, there may be snow in the gardens and deer fencing up.
Please follow the rules posted at the main entrance to the Gardens
No eating or picnicking
No picking of flowers or plant materials