Photo by Annadeene K. Fowler
Greg Larson’s home and Tuva Bakery are surrounded by a four-season garden which will be open for tours as part of the Belfast Garden Club’s Open Garden Days series.
LINCOLNVILLE CENTER, Maine — Belfast Garden Club’s Open Garden Days series will visit the Larson Garden at Tuva Bakery, 17 Tuva Trail, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday, July 27. Tickets may be purchased at the garden for $4. Proceeds benefit Belfast Garden Club’s civic beautification projects.
Tucked away under tall shady oaks Greg Larson’s mature woodland garden surrounds his home and business, the Tuva Bakery. Over the past 18 years he has developed the landscape into a four-season pleasure with a distinct Asian influence focused on specimen trees and shrubs with strong structural components, rich contrasting colors, and year-round interest.
“I tend to feature less common varieties of plantings that will last a long time,” he said, gesturing to favorites, including the camouflaged barked Japanese stewartia (currently in bloom), and six varieties of cypress with a wide range of foliage. Larson describes his garden artistically as “more like sculpture than painting.”
The focus is on the clearing of space, on form of branches and the relation of the plantings to each other rather than on flashy blooms. A large canopy dances over much of the garden, pools of shade cool the green-forested understory below. Larson has spent years fine-tuning this understory, clearing underbrush and exposing rock formations. Elements now on display include a 100-year-old farm stonewall, and several distinct stone outcroppings growing their own tiny moss and sedum gardens in natural cavities. Traditional shade lovers such as hosta, ferns, and pulmonaria thrive.
A strong spiritual element is evident here, concepts such as patience, change and flexibility are practiced daily. The garden is in a steady state of transition. Over time Larson may notice that one plant isn’t faring as well as it might, or has outgrown its current location, and he finds it easy to release the concept he had for
that area of the garden and relocate the plant it to the appropriate location of the moment.
“I’m like a scientist, if I discover a misplant I’ll move it and find out what it really needs,” he said. “The books will tell you about what the plants will be like for 8-10 years, but I’m going on 20 years with many of these. Things are now very different.” That flexibility has kept the gardens fresh and the energy moving, he explained.
Larson had exposure to gardens as a youth, his mother and grandmother were both gardeners, however, he feels this garden was inspired by the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, a spot he visited often when he lived nearby for many years. “It was wonderful, I was the first one in each day. I could wander, practice tai chi, and look at the plants, ” he recalled. The pond and platform in his lower garden are a direct response to installations of the botanical gardens.
On the day of the tour visitors will enjoy a wildflower meadow along the path to the pond and will be
delighted with the individual features of ornamental grasses, weeping Alaskan cedar, smoke bush and Russian cypress. Of note in the field beyond the pond, stand a deep purple and a red European beech tree, each planned to grow to a mammoth 60 ft. A totem pole, fruit trees and a late blooming rhododendron (currently flowering for the first time, at around age 12) add to the meditative ambiance, reflecting in the water below.
Despite the spotlight on evergreens and their year-round elements, the garden is by no means devoid of summer flowers. A break in the trees overhead allows for a sunny bed sweeping from the house to the sauna along a flat stone path. It is filled with hot-colored flowers. Oriental lilies, bee balm, loosestrife, astilbe and
water lilies in the pond should all be in bloom.
Larson invites tour takers to bring a picnic and relax by the pond for lunch. Tuva Bakery will offer some special treats for purchase including sticky buns, pesto cheese croissants. and rhubarb raspberry bars. The bakery will provide complementary lemonade.
Directions: From downtown Belfast, take Main St. up the hill to Lincolnville Avenue; turn left. Pass Hannaford and cross Route one following Rte 52 all the way to Lincolnville Center,10.2 miles. Turn left and make immediate right onto Rte 235 (Hope Road). Go two miles to Tuva Trail on right.
For more information about Belfast Garden Club’s Open Garden Days call Diane Allmayer-Beck at 207-338-3105, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.belfastgardenclub.org .