Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Another Plan Adjustment- Jordan Out, Gardens In

Sunday August 6, 2017                                                           Most Recent Posts:
Acadia National Park                                                              Nobody but the Birds on Northeast Creek
Mount Desert Island, Maine
                                          Turned Out Great Anyway




We were out early this morning to kayak Jordan Pond but when we got out of the car, it was clear there was much too much wind to have an enjoying paddle.   So now what at 7:15 in the morning?






We decide we’ll spend the morning at the gardens in Northeast Harbor we’ve been wanting to visit.  Of course they aren’t open at 7:15 am so we look around for a place for breakfast.  We drive through the little town of Northeast Harbor and don’t see one open restaurant open for breakfast.  That can’t be.  We continue on and try to go back through town but it’s a one way street and in order to go back through we have to go WAY out and around.   WHAT?

IMG_0604Ok then,  We pull over to check the map to see how far around and notice we are in a motel parking lot near the harbor.  They have a restaurant called the Tan Turtle Tavern.  So that’s our breakfast spot.
Certainly not the most beautiful spot.

If you know Northeast Harbor and can tell us where we should have gone for breakfast around 8am, please let us know.   We obviously don’t spend much time here.

Unfortunately the restaurant overlooked the motel pool and not the harbor. But the view was fine.  Not sure why David put his back to it.  it wasn’t that bad.  The food was also fine but a bit too salty for me.





The Asticou Garden was closest so we went there first.  The garden was built in 1957 by Northeast Harbor resident Charles K. Savage with financial support from John D Rockefeller.  Savage used plants purchased from the renowned landscape architect Beatrix Farrand’s Reef Point garden upon its closing.  He brought much of the plant material from Reef Point to Thuya Garden which we’ll see next but he thought that the large azalea collection would be better suited for display around the small pond in lower Asticou.  I can only imagine how wonderful the reflections of the Azaleas in the pond must be. 


IMG_0610Both Asticou and Thuya Gardens are now owned by the Mount Desert Land and Garden Preserve.  When we visited the gardens there we saw only one or two other people during the nearly hour and a half we spent here.  That’s because the gardens are a serious showcase for the Azaleas which were not in bloom in August.  Learned something here, see the gardens twice.  Come in June when they are in bloom despite the crowds and come again in August when you can enjoy them in solitude.


Savage must have been inspired by the Japanese stroll garden concept.  The paths twist and turn going not only by a pond but by a sand garden.   There were blooms in the garden which really did have a very calming atmosphere.  We walked through it at a slow pace quietly and serenely.   It really made you want to be silent or at best to whisper.


The beautiful sand garden.
A sign tells us that the garden is similar in size to the celebrated garden
of Ryoanji in Kyoto dating from about 1480.
The sand represents water and the stones islets.




Through the course of our stroll, we were able to see the sand garden from both sides.
There are benches from which you can view it.





Some Rhododendron was in bloom.



So was the ethereal smoke bush.



Many of the plants still were covered with dew.









The pond is just beautiful with its reflections.  Imagine if all the azaleas around it were in bloom.






Notice the bridge on the right and the stacked stones on the left.





Water is falling softly behind the bridge






Doesn’t he look relaxed in such a soothing environment?   Well actually he always looks relaxed so it’s probably not a good question.






There are many benches tucked away here and there for contemplative moments.




Many of the plants here are labeled.  Of course this one didn’t need to be.  Eagle eyes spotted it right away.





A Zen moment for a feathered friend.



The paths throughout the garden are made of small pebbled rock.  There was a volunteer raking the paths when we arrived.   I wondered if she did this all day long to obliterate any footprints but she seemed so serene that I didn’t ask her.







Even the gate is wonderful.  It looks to be made of some sort of local cane or branches.   We’ve spent about an hour and a half here at Asticou and the Azaleas aren’t even in bloom.  I can absolutelly recommend this garden as an excellent place to come if you are having a bad day or just want to relax.  It will definitely raise your spirits with its calm and tranquil atmosphere even when the Azaleas aren’t providing a riot of color.




From here we head to the near by  Asticou Terraces which lead up to the Thuya Gardens.
A very different place but that’s for another post.


  1. Beautiful pictures, enjoyed them.

  2. That garden is so beautiful, even without blooming azaleas. It makes me feel peaceful just looking at your photos! I'm sure David was happy that breakfast was part of the backup plan. :-)) What do you guys usually do for breakfast when you're out on the trail so early?

  3. Oh how wonderful. Love the sand garden, the islets seem to float. The dew on the smoke bush looks like a fairy party dress! You're right, David always looks Zen :-) Great pic of you walking the little posts. I'm sure the paddle would have have been wonderful, but I'm so glad to spend some time in this beautiful garden.

  4. We have put Asticou Garden on our list to do next visit...but early in the season;-) Just so many things to see and do on MCI!!! Hard to believe we were there for 2 months and still have so many things we haven't done!!

  5. Too bad your paddle plans got "blown away" but that stroll through the gardens certainly made up for it. So peaceful, nice place to recharge your batteries. :c)

  6. Sorry the paddle was out, but I love gardens, so thanks for sharing! Great pictures. I love smoke bushes!

  7. The sand garden portion reminds me of a zen garden here at one of our museums.

  8. Sand gardens are so peaceful in themselves. How cool to include that in a garden. Lovely place to rest and be at peace.

  9. The Zen of the garden seems a much better choice than fighting the wind on rough water.

  10. Although I love eating breakfast out, the Tan Turtle breakfast was not one to recommend. Beyond being to salty, the food was greasy and worse, it smelled like rancid oil. The Asticou Gardens however put mind, body (including GI tract) and soul to rest. What a beautiful & serene garden yet right on a road, which although it was right adjacent to the garden, did not distract from the quiet, peaceful feeling of the place.

  11. I feel serene just reading about this place. I have never heard of a sand garden. This place looks wonderful. Thank you for sharing.

  12. Great pictures! The gardens look like a restful place to step away from it all. Love the picture of the feathered friend. Very zen. I can imagine the beauty around that pond when the azaleas are showing off and bet the gardens are less peaceful then. Great substitute for going paddling, although I'm sure that would've been great too :)


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