Natural beauty, artistic pleasures abound at garden and art studio

Posted July 17, 2011, at 3:32 p.m.
The kitchen garden and Finch art studio will the feature of the Belfast Open Garden Days tour 100 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday, July 22.
Photo by Annadeene K. Fowler
The kitchen garden and Finch art studio will the feature of the Belfast Open Garden Days tour 100 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday, July 22.

BELFAST — Belfast Garden Club’s Open Garden Days Series will feature the garden and studio of Jerri Finch and John Holmes 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday, July 22, at 33 Battery Road, Belfast.

This painterly garden awards the visitor rich variation in texture of foliage and blooms with layering of native and locally supplied plants and shrubs against the grand slate-blue canvas of Penobscot Bay. Beach-stone paths amble through tall ferns, past found object sculpture, and beneath towering Oak and Ash trees, which provide a leafy respite from the hot summer sun. Wagon wheels as stakes for Solomon’s seal provide structure for growing plants, and visual interest before plants have grown. Impressive stonewalled islands of color host crane’s bill geranium, Stella Dora lilies and climbing hydrangea. A short walk up to the pastures finds Mischief Mary and Jumpin’ Johnny scarecrows guarding a fruit and vegetable patch of raspberry, asparagus and squash.

Although it is clear that the garden is an extension of her formal artwork, painter Jerri Finch keeps this friendly cascading garden casual. “In the studio my work is serious, but in the garden not so much,” she said. “I don’t want to be confined by garden rules.” As such, her kitchen garden abounds with tomatoes fruiting next to flowering cosmos and herbs growing beneath rich purple clematis.

Plants are mulched with seaweed from the beach at the foot of the garden. Swaths of diverse greenery vary from shiny and round, to pointed and feathery, dotted with flashes of color. Ocean views are intersected with the straight silver trunks of white birch creating “snapshots” across the landscape.

Garden art includes zen stone piles, large steel sphere sculptures by David McLaughlin, a Forest Hart sea otter and an architectural 16-foot-tall wooden trellis created by Finch of wood scraps and clothesdrying racks.

The Finch-Holmes Open Garden Day will mark the start of a six-day viewing of Jerri Finch and friend-teacher Kerstin Engman’s new oils in the show, “Split Compliment, an exhibition of paintings in a garden setting.”

Paintings will be set on easels throughout the garden and will fill three galleries on the property. The new works, which Finch describes as “the Maine landscape reflected in the mirror of color theory,” include views and ideas from the artists’ everyday experience from ocean waves to farmhouse tables.

Well-known and collected artists will be on hand to greet visitors beyond Friday’s Belfast Garden Club’s Open Garden. Visitors also are welcome 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 23-24, and Friday through Sunday, July 29-31

Directions: Route 1 south from center of Belfast, turn opposite Aubuchon Hardware onto Battery Road. Turn right at fork, park on either side of Finch-Holmes driveway at 33 Battery Road being careful not to block neighbors. Watch for signs. The garden and art exhibit are handicapped-accessible.

Tickets for Belfast Garden Club’s Open Garden Days can be purchased at each garden, on the day of the tour for a donation of $4 for one garden, or $15 for a five-visit ticket. Proceeds from the 2011 Garden Tour will benefit the club’s civic beautification projects.

For more information about Belfast Garden Club’s Open Garden Days contact Diane Allmayer-Beck at 948-2815 or 338-3105, belfastgardenclub@gmail.com, or http://www.belfastgardenclub.org/. For information about Jerri Finch and Kerstin Engman’s “Split Compliment” exhibit, call 338-1060.

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