Friday, June 1, 2012 10 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Location: Carol's Collectibles, 411 Nickerson Rd, Swanville, Maine
For more information: Belfast Garden Club, Diane Allmayer-Beck; 338-3105; belfastgardenclub.org
For 7 consecutive years, Belfast Garden Club has presented Open Garden Days, a garden tour series, which this year will feature 13 gardens in the Belfast area. From backyard experimental plantings and ornate Master Gardens, to plant nurseries and vegetable plots visitors can expect to see brilliant blooms, unique and rare plants, sculpture, exquisite views and even an outdoor pizza oven. One garden will be open to the public each Friday, 10am-4pm, from June 1st to August 24th plus the first Fridays of September and October. Tickets can be purchased at each garden on the day of the tour for $4. Proceeds from the 2012 Open Garden Days will benefit the Club’s civic beautification projects.
BGC’s Open Garden Days season begins Friday, June 1st from 10am-4pm at Carol’s Collectables, Carol Yee’s nursery of unique plants at 411 Nickerson Road, Swanville. The day will include a special book talk, beginning at 11am, by writer, editor, and landscape historian Jane Roy Brown, who revisits the Belfast area – the scene of her childhood- to share her new book One Writer’s Garden; Eudora Welty’s Home Place. In addition to her book, Ms. Brown has been published in the Boston Globe, Horticulture Magazine and Maine Times, among others.
Carol’s Collectibles is a nursery off the beaten path, at the top of a breezy hill in Swanville, flanked by farm fields and woods. Proprietor Carol Yee’s front yard is positively teaming with green growth, fragrant flowers, spiky grasses, smooth leaved Rhododendrons, and stories of the plants she has cared for there since 2009. Three greenhouses overwinter most of the potted selection, which also include perennials, woodies, and conifers, as well as deciduous and evergreen Azaleas. “This is where I spend my winter,” Carol points to a large table in one warm greenhouse set for propagating new plants and surrounded by orchids and succulent climbers.
After moving much of the collection outside for the summer, the yard flourishes with neatly grouped ornamental and unique plant offerings, most of which Carol has propagated and cared for herself for years. By quick estimate, at least one thousand plants call this their temporary home. Despite their numbers, this hard working, affable plant enthusiast has a good handle on where everything is, knows most plant’s names without looking at their tags, and has a little story about where or how she came by each variety at the tip of her tongue. She seems to regard each as a friend or family member, touches each fondly on the way by and remarks of their quirks. “I love them and they’re weird” she smiles regarding the curly fronds of a Rams Horn willow.
The nursery was actually started in Connecticut in 1996 when what began as a passing interest in a friend’s plant work, became a collection- swiftly bordering on obsession. When in 2009, she was ready for a change and a return to a state she had enjoyed over summers as a youth, Carol decided not to leave her nursery behind, instead she picked up the amassed ensemble, and relocated them hundreds of miles to the Swanville property.
Today’s selections include traditional plant, shrub and tree offerings such as Lupine, Lilac, Maples and Pines, but her specialization is in unusual, some rare, plantings and varieties. “The lure of the plants I offer is in the special characteristics that separate them from the norm,” she says, “By no means does this translate into being hard to grow or necessarily expensive.”
One of the collections Carol has become known for is her selection of Rhodedendrons, over 100 varieties, many tracing their lineage to plants grown and developed by world famous geneticist and hybridizer of Rhododendrons, Dr. Gustav Mehlquist, who Carol worked with at The University of Connecticut. Rows and rows of Rhodys bloom in flowers of all colors and shapes while hummingbirds dart back and forth in heaven. All of the variety in foliage colors and textures are of great interest too. “Look at this one,” Carol croons, gently stroking the silvery leaves on one spring-fresh shrub, “who cares if it even blooms, the new growth is so beautiful!”
Since the Maine move Carol has added a host of colorful hydrangeas and her most fragrant plant, Daphne, in several uncommon varieties. Quick to remember each plant’s special characteristics she is also a master of description “Ah,” she effuses pointing to one Daphne yet to bloom, “this one has big sloppy fragrant flowers.” Other intriguing selections include Dogwood, variegated Solomon seal, yellow bleeding heart, dwarf boxwood, several Andromeda varieties, black sweet William, Witch’s Broom, woodland wildflowers and much more.
If you’re looking for that special plant to fill a spot in your own garden, have questions about where or how to propagate a tree or shrub, or purely enjoy browsing and taking in some of the entertaining stories Carol Yee can tell about her collection, Carol’s Collectables is the place for you on June 1st. “My hope is to make plant nuts out of all of you,” she invites. If you’d like to browse before visiting, the nursery has a good website with photos and descriptions of most of the plants she sells, www.carolscollectibles.com. Carol’s Collectibles is also open regular business hours (check web for specifics), and can be found at several MidCoast Farmer’s Markets. On Open Garden Day you are welcome to bring a picnic and visit with the chickens!
DIRECTIONS: Carol’s Collectibles is located 6.9 miles from downtown Belfast. Take Route One N over Veterans Bridge (Passy River), left on Rte 141. Travel 2.9 miles on Swan Lake Ave. then turn right onto Smart Road. 1.5 miles, go through the intersection (becomes Nickerson Rd.), continue straight ahead for 1 mile. Look for the large green house and the greenhouses on right.
Once you get close look for the yellow Open Garden signs. Wheelchair accessible.
The next BGC Open Garden Day will be Friday, June 8 at the Banwell Garden, 133 Miller Street, Belfast
For more information about Belfast Garden Club’s Open Garden Days call Diane Allmayer-Beck at 338-3105, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.belfastgardenclub.org.