Visitors who enjoyed the 2010 tour will remember Letha Wood’s aptitude for growing beautiful and unusual plants and her strong eye for artistic arrangements of garden beds, which fan out surrounding her Orland home. A collector, builder, tinkerer and artist, Letha Wood moved to the property with her engineer husband Roger in 1967 and the two have been creating their comfortable homestead together ever since. Extensive hand built stonewalls bring elegant structure to garden beds, hand built from rocks on the property. The gardens are studded with well-placed birdhouses, found objects and nature related sculptures that call to visitors to explore this sizable landscape.
One garden creature designed by Letha is formed with an iron wheel, a wheelbarrow and a watering can. Roger has designed a new archway for Letha out of rebar, which is ridged and will be great for climbing plants. The garden boasts many vines and roses including 14 clematis cultivars. “Cow manure has made all the difference with the clematis,” Letha reports. She uses natural fertilizers and pest reducers where possible, cow manure and seafood compost are staples of her garden. She employs several natural remedies for pests as well, including vinegar weed killer and talcum powder for Japanese beetles.
Letha has planted 40 ornamental shrubs and fruiting trees with staggered bloom times in mind. “I hauled those home in the back of my truck when they were just twigs, stuck them in, and now look at them!” Wood marvels, admiring her well-established collection, which includes weeping cherry, Japanese red maple, Korean vibernum, enkianthus, deutzia, star magnolia, prunus (cherry), yellow nine dart and pee gee hyderanga. A special catalpa (Indian bean) tree should be blooming fresh with white blossoms reminiscent of orchids.
There have been several changes to the garden in recent years, including new beds and plants. Two gardens in front of the potting shed (take a peek at the copper water tank!) have joined to be a focal point from the patio. Now an island of Canterbury bells, pink potentilla, poppies, linium and columbine of all colors join in an elegant swath as you look up the hill from the patio. Several of the more unusual plants are promising a good showing during the tour. Of note are the fringed Montana blue sky amsonia, a gas plant planted in 1991 and an unusual Phlomis with pink fuzzy bee-balmish spires. Take special note of the rock garden behind the potting shed resplendent with ferns, heliobore, trillium and a jack-in-the-pulpit colony including a large showy Sikokianum. Lupine meadows in full bloom will complete the charming scene.
Bring a blanket and a picnic lunch to enjoy at the garden. The Woods will serve lemonade and cookies in their screen room and Letha will give away a collection of garden catalogs. Their antique shop will be open, which has expanded in recent years to include gardening supplies and memorabilia. The offerings include Letha’s hand-built trellises, window boxes and clever repurposed furniture planters. Vintage Domino Sugar bags turned into market vegetable bags, old signs, sculptural pieces, housewares and 100 houseplants fill the barn from floor to ceiling. Most items are priced at $20 or under, but there are a wide range of items and prices. The shop is open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. seven days a week.
Directions to the Wood garden, 580 Castine Road, Orland: From Belfast, follow Route 1 north through Bucksport towards Ellsworth. Turn right on Route 175 (Castine Road), travel 2.6 miles. The property is on the left, with a sign for Carriage Shed Antiques and a big yellow flag. Once you get close, follow the Open Garden arrows. There is parking on the lawn beyond the antique shop.
The club’s next Open Garden Day will be Friday June 21 at the Anthony-Greeley Garden, 291 Hatch Road, in Jackson.