One of the many sitting areas at the gardens of the Captain Nickels Inn. Courtesy of Belfast Garden Club

SEARSPORT — Two Searsport gardens will be featured on Friday, July 23 as part of Belfast Garden Club’s Open Garden Day. Both are unique and within a 15 minute walk of each other. One is a former sea captain’s home at 127 East Main Street, the other at 11 Water Street features a sun, shade and woodland garden bordering the Mill Brook. Gardens will open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., rain or shine. A $5 donation admits visitors to both gardens (checks or exact change is appreciated) and additional donations to support the Garden Club are welcome.

In the three years since Dawn Gintz purchased the historic Captain Nickels Inn at 127 East Main Street, she has expanded the gardens surrounding the bed and breakfast and created several sitting areas, many with commanding views of Penobscot Bay. Some of the gardens were already established, she notes with about 80 percent being newly created. Coming from Florida, Gintz said it has been a learning process knowing when plants bloom and what plants go together. The gardens of the Captain Nickels Inn are informal with water views consisting primarily of perennial flowers and shrubs. The house and tavern will be open to visitors and Gintz can answer any questions about the inn’s history. “Gardening is something I really love to do,” she said.

Janine Carpenter grew up in a family of gardeners. Her home at 11 Water Street was her mother’s house originally which she bought and has been working on the garden for the past three years. “The bones of it are hers,” she said, adding that some plants are from her grandmother’s garden. In the last few years Carpenter said she lost several large trees in her yard which transformed her landscape from shade to sun. “It’s a work in progress,” she notes. Carpenter’s expansive garden in her back yard is partly sunny, shady, and a meandering path leads visitors to a wooded wonderland lined with all kinds of ferns adjacent to Mill Brook. The cool shade is a perfect respite on a hot day with the path ending where the stream meets the bay. Carpenter said Maine is a great place to grow flowers with so much moisture in the air allowing plants to last longer. Her garden, she said, has “been a blessing” during the pandemic, seeing the changes in the landscape has inspired her. “There’s always something blooming in here,” she said.


The Belfast Garden Club has promoted public gardens and stimulated the knowledge and love of gardening for more than 90 years. Proceeds from the club’s fundraising support local public gardens and several scholarship funds. For more information, please visit BelfastGardenClub.org.