EASTPORT, Maine — After three days of rain and a week of foggy weather, the sun shone brilliantly Monday on a large group of volunteers creating a new gateway garden in downtown Eastport.
Hundreds of plants stood at the ready as members and friends of Eastport for Pride, a community action group, cleaned the triple-tiered garden, designed the planting arrangement and augmented the soil.
The garden at the intersection of Washington and Water streets, in the heart of downtown Eastport, is the third downtown garden that Eastport for Pride has completed.
In 2008, the group created a perennial garden at the entrance to the town’s breakwater, and in 2009, its members planted a garden at the fishermen’s memorial.
This latest garden replaces empty space and two red metal sculptures that, although intended to be refurbished and replaced, were found to be rusted at the base and unusable in their current state.
Garden designer Susan Neet Goodwin explained Monday that everyone on-site — more than two dozen people — were volunteers and that they were a mixture of permanent residents, summer residents and visitors.
“This is a great cooperative effort,” Goodwin said.
The city of Eastport donated the soil and the use of the backhoe as well as the mulch — demolition debris chipped at the town’s transfer station. The plants were purchased through donations by Eastport for Pride and the Eastport Garden Club.
The town’s weekly newspaper, The Quoddy Tides, donated piles of paper that will be used as a weed preventive layer under the mulch.
“We polled the town awhile back, and gardening and beautification projects were on the top of the list,” Goodwin said. Eastport for Pride sent out 100 e-mails last week looking for volunteers, and the parking lot by the garden filled quickly Monday morning.
The organization has been a critical part of redevelopment and redesign in Eastport. From 2002 to 2009, Eastport for Pride led the town’s Main Street Maine community program.
Because of that effort, a Downtown Revitalization Plan was created and incorporated into the city’s Comprehensive Plan and Community Development Block Grants were sought and obtained for facade improvements, a public garden space, sidewalk replacement and period streetlights.
Eastport for Pride has also used grant funding to install heritage signs along the breakwater for a self-guided walking tour of Eastport’s past, and among the group’s beautification projects was the purchase of benches and trash receptacles.
The group, along with the city, Eastport Arts Center and Sunrise County Farmers’ Market, also launched Eastport Market Day, a local farmers and artisans market.
Goodwin said the garden created Monday is a perennial shrub and grasses garden, with an eye toward easy maintenance and durability, since it sits alongside a busy main street and a town parking area. All of the shrubs were purchased at Growing Concern in Calais, and owner Richard East was on-site Monday morning with helpful advice.
“I think it is going to be really pretty,” she said.
As the group worked, several people stopped by, rolling their car windows down to compliment the workers and the garden.
The garden is three levels, 4½ feet deep and 83 feet long. It curves on both ends for an additional 32 feet.
“This will really provide a welcoming statement to downtown Eastport,” said Lissa EuDaly, president of the Eastport for Pride board of trustees.