Too Much Fun to Be Working

Last week we completed a pretty big renovation of our Rose and Perennial Garden at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. The renovations were so large that we may now have to call it the Perennial and Rose Garden plus a lot of other really cool plants. Our roses never performed admirably (where do they without tons of pesticides?) so we ripped out the worst of the lot and redesigned the plantings to provide more color during the summer and fall. I wanted to get all of these renovations done before Memorial Day so we worked tirelessly as a team to get everything in the ground. The fact that mother nature threw us a curve ball and decided to make it a cold, rainy week did not help things a bit.

Raindrops on leaves

But we were having fun. We were using new plants and trying out new combinations that I had only dreamed up in my head. Like a mass planting of Angelica gigas (it looks really cool). Near the end of the process, I let out a joyous yell at how things looked. One of our gardeners walked up to me and said, “you are having too much fun to be working.”


Lindera obtusiloba

I have a list of plants from this garden to share with you so let me start with one of my favorite, underused plants, Lindera obtusiloba. Japanese spicebush is a deciduous shrub that will top out at around 12 feet in height and width. The striking characteristic about this shrub is its foliage. It is mitten shaped like a sassafras. During the fall when the leaves change color, it is a bright yellow. There is an older shrub planted near one of Longwood Gardens‘ back parking lots. I remember as a graduate student walking past this plant and then walking off the sidewalk to see it up close. We planted a small plant that we bought from Broken Arrow Nursery, along the south side of the arbor in the garden. I can already picture the future shrub in about five years making guests stop and wonder what is that plant…

Lindera obtusiloba fall color



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rodney eason

Rodney Eason - Director of Horticulture and Plant Curator at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, father of 4, husband to a Renaissance woman. I spent the first part of my life in North Carolina, the middle in Pennsylvania, and now I am determined to become a Mainer  while keeping my southern drawl. I consider the rhetorical question, "you're not from around here, are you?" a compliment. I love great gardens, beautiful plants, and inspiring architecture. Because of this, I am on a lifelong quest to find a garden that artistically combines beautiful plants while being centered around an evocative building. For me, this would be Beatrix Farrand's Dumbarton Oaks, with the plants of Lotusland and Chanticleer, around Fay Jones' Thorncrown Chapel. My wife and I are now making our new home and garden in a 130 year old New England house with a farmer's porch near the Damariscotta River in coastal Maine. When our kids get into college, we want to hike the Appalachian Trail as a family over a summer break. My likes (in random order): the smell of fresh basil and rosemary, bold foliage, India Pale Ale, good running shoes, Top Gear, the smell of New England in the fall (it reminds me a bit of English Leather, which my grandfather wore), and the sound of our family laughing together around the dinner table. I dream of one day owning an old Toyota 4X4 pick-up and seeing the Avett Brothers in concert.
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  1. Roanne Robbins on May 29, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    How wonderful! Heading up to the botanical garden tomorrow with my kiddos!

    • rodneyeason on May 29, 2013 at 2:42 pm

      Have a wonderful time! It looks like tomorrow will be a gorgeous day. – r

  2. Laurrie on May 29, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    I pore over catalogs and visit nurseries and arboretums (I’m close enough in Connecticut to get to both Broken Arrow and Maine Botanical a couple times a year), so I think I know all the great plants there are to be had. And then you show me this — mitten shaped leaves on a yellow fall shrub that I have never heard of!! I am fascinated with this Japanese spicebush. I grow the native spicebush, and I’m growing a sassafras grove, but I now must have this lovely and unusual plant that combines the best of both. Thanks for introducing me to it.

    • rodneyeason on May 30, 2013 at 6:18 am

      You’re welcome. Thank you for reading and leaving a comment!

  3. [email protected] Trekker on May 29, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    250 acres is a fairly large facility. I went back to look at the pictures through the link in your posting and the plantings are really impressive, great work.

    • rodneyeason on May 30, 2013 at 6:17 am

      Thanks, Charlie! Hope you can make it over.

  4. amy on May 31, 2013 at 7:52 am

    I will look forward to having a look at these new additions. I hope to be in your neighborhood in July for the event at Garland Farm.

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