A tiny island of serenity is set amidst the bustle of Northeast Harbor on Mt. Desert, home of Acadia National Park in Maine. While it is known and loved for the beauty and variety of its blooming rhododendrons, Asticou Garden is a refuge any time of the year. During the depths of January ice, my thoughts escape to a July garden visit.
Built in 1956 and styled after a Japanese stroll garden, the Asticou features paths meandering through shade and sun, hill and pond, flower bed and lawn. Tiny shrines nestle in woodland or water settings, stone paeans to the beauty of nature.
Many of the rhododendrons and azaleas are quite old, having been transplanted from an estate garden in 1956. The shade loving shrubs and small trees shelter beneath towering pines. Red Japanese maples splash color, as do late blooming rhododendrons.
Birds sing and flit about the branches. Ducks and insects lead their busy lives along the waterways. Sounds of the outside world mute to be replaced by warm breezes sighing through pine boughs, cricket song or silence. Visitors tread quietly here, speaking in whispers.
A bounty of bloom, the garden remains the same, yet ever changing, year after year. Sanctuary for a body in the height of midsummer, or a mind in the gray grip of winter’s freeze, Asticou continues as a gem of the coast of Maine.