Charming Kruger Garden combines edibles and flowers for a compelling garden stop

Posted June 28, 2013, at 9:08 p.m.

Friday, July 5, 2013 10 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Location: Kruger Garden, 8 Durham Street, Belfast, ME

For more information: Diane Allmayer-Beck; 207-338-3105; belfastgardenclub.org

The compelling 4-season Kruger garden incorporates edibles, flowers, ornamental shrubs and trees, rockwork and architecture to create a delicious and cozy in-town garden experience. The Kruger garden will be featured Friday, July 5th from 10am-4pm, next in the 2013 Open Garden Days series from Belfast Garden Club. Tickets can be purchased at the garden, located at 8 Durham Street in Belfast, for a donation of $4 for the day, or $15 for a five-garden pass. Proceeds will benefit the Belfast Garden Club’s civic beautification projects.

The garden was started from scratch after a move from Orono and the completion of the construction of the Kruger’s new home, on a previously bare lot in 2005. Robin Kruger has been gardening since she and her husband came to Maine in 1974. “We were back-to-landers, of the ‘I garden therefore I am’ variety,” she smiles. Learning by trial and error, by taking classes in University of Maine’s horticulture program and by working at a nursery, Robin has grown everything from vegetables to herbs, small trees, shrubs and perennials. “In Orono, I learned to grow plants that were hardy in zone 3 or 4,” she remarks, “in Belfast I can use warmer zone 5 plants!” Magnolia trees are one of the exciting additions in her new “southern” climate garden.

In the full sun of the cheerfully fenced front yard a natural integration of vegetables and flowers are a feast for the eye and body, and have replaced much of the lawn. Blue cornflower and red poppies burst against a backdrop of peas, garlic, chard and strawbrerries. Kruger loves growing food, and picking what she will eat that night for supper right out of her own yard. In reaction to her devotion to this method of gardening, her daughter has dubbed her a “yardovore”. Three cold frames enable Robin to stretch the season on either end and to harvest her own food most of the year; her freezer allows her to store crops for eating (30 quarts of strawberries!) during the dead of winter. A wide variety of herbs mingle throughout the garden and complete the edible package.

Kruger has brought some seedlings and plants from her Orono garden to lay the groundwork for this new and evolving project, including high bush blueberries and the small, colorful Amur Maple. The bare lot had previously been used as a parking area, so there has been a good deal of creative gardening done in the rear of the property where the gravel level is highest. Kruger has taken the rocky soil as an opportunity to incorporate the structure of stone paths and walls, to use rocks as focal points and to experiment with ground covers (which don’t need deep soil to prosper). Robin’s favorite groundcover is the sturdy, lush-green hernaria. Shadier areas beneath a collection of tall trees bordering her back yard, create shelter from the sun and space for a patio recently developed beside her quaint, painted garden shed. This area hosts a capacious spray of foliage plants with dynamic contrasts in textures and colors of leaves. Many varieties of hosta, evergreens, ferns and shade tolerant blooms thrive here.

The Kruger garden has an authentically charming feel; rustic and home-grown while also refined and ornate. Small nature-based sculptures and birdbaths (many made by local artists) and hand-built archways add to the creative ambiance. It is likely that many of the 20 climbing Clematis on the property will be in bloom. Compost lovers will enjoy a three-bin compost set up as well as Kruger’s worm compost system. Robin plans to serve iced herbal and regular tea, come enjoy and rest in the shade of her new patio.

Directions to the Kruger Garden, 8 Durham Street from downtown Belfast: follow High Street until it turns to Northport Avenue, turn right on Durham St. (opposite Blood’s Garage), #8 is on the left. Follow Open Garden arrows as you get close. Parking on street.

Belfast Garden Club’s Open Garden Days will take a break, July 12, to enjoy the Hospital Aid of Waldo County General Hospital Garden Tour. The next BGC Open Garden Day will be Friday, July 19, at the Mercadante / Mooney Garden, 70 Waldo Avenue, Belfast

For 8 consecutive years, Belfast Garden Club has presented Open Garden Days, a Friday garden tour series, which will feature 11 gardens in the Belfast area. From backyard experimental plantings and ornate Master Gardens, to cooperative gardens and vegetable plots visitors can expect to see brilliant blooms, unique and rare plants, sculpture, exquisite views and ponds. Several gardens will feature special presentations by the gardeners, and at least two will have farm stands to peruse. While many of this year’s gardens are new to the tour, several of past years’ favorites are returning to Open Garden Days so that viewers will be able to see what changes have taken place! Proceeds from the 2013 Open Garden Days will benefit the Club’s civic beautification projects.

For more information about Belfast Garden Club’s Open Garden Days call Diane Allmayer-Beck at 338-3105, email belfastgardenclub@gmail.com, or visit www.belfastgardenclub.org