Thuya Garden is a gorgeous flowering garden located on a granite hillside overlooking Northeast Harbor on Mount Desert Island, Maine. It was originally designed and built in 1956 - 1961 by Charles K. Savage, a long-time resident of Northeast Harbor, along with financial support from John D. Rockefeller. The garden exhibits an English style influence with special input from Beatrix Farrand so that it will incorporate the unique character of the Maine coast. A variety of annuals and perennials line the two long sides of the garden. An open observation pavilion sits at the top of a slight incline on the north end overlooking the main garden that cascades down to a shallow reflecting pool below. Thuya Lodge was constructed from 1912 - 1916 by summer resident Joseph H. Curtis, its owner and Boston based landscape architect. The garden was constructed in an orchard also owned by Curtis. A memorial in his honor is located part way up the Asticou Terrace Trail. Thuya got its name from the abundance of white cedar (Thuya Occidentalis) located in the area.
Access from Peabody Drive
The words “Asticou Terraces” are carved into a large block of granite at the base of the stone steps that lead up to Thuya Garden off the Peabody Drive section of Route 3, just southeast of the Asticou Inn. The stairs (on the eastern side of Peabody Drive) wind up the front of the granite cliffs for about 1/4 mile through a forested setting with open sections that provide panoramic views of Northeast Harbor with its many yachts and other vessels. A small parking area is provided across the street from the stairs. People arriving by boat may tie up at the landing for Asticou Terraces in the harbor below while visiting the garden and terraces.
Road to Garden
For those not able or not wanting to make the walk, there is a single lane road (Thuya Drive) leading to the garden a short distance past the stairs to the south. There is adequate parking near the entrance gate to the garden. Make sure to pause at the garden’s wooden entrance door to appreciate the exceptional craftsmanship that went into its design and construction. As with the garden, this was designed by John K. Savage. The cedar door itself was hand-carved by Augustus D. Philips. Once inside, be sure to try the different paths. Some take you to places unseen from the main section. As with the Asticou Azalea Garden, there are wonderful spots for sitting and relaxing, or having a nice quiet conversation.
Thuya Drive GPS: 44.295088, -68.276557
Thuya Garden is currently owned and maintained by the Mount Desert Land and Garden Preserve and a committee of volunteers. Contributions to aid in its support are welcomed. Visitors are asked to donate $3.00. Those wishing to make a tax deductible donation should make the gift out to:
Mount Desert Land and Garden Preserve
P.O. Box 208
Seal Harbor, ME 04675
The garden is open daily, 7:00 AM - 7:00 PM, late May through mid-October of each year. Thuya Lodge is open late June - mid-September, 10:00 AM to 4:30 PM. Take note that Northeast Harbor and Seal Harbor are both part of the municipality of Mount Desert, Maine.
Stats & Facts
- Located in Northeast Harbor, Maine
- GPS of Thuya Drive: 44.295088, -68.276557
- Thuya Garden GPS: 44.295316, -68.274677
- Created by John K. Savage
- Early financing support: John D. Rockefeller, Jr.
- Owned & maintained by:
Mount Desert Land and Garden Preserve
Some of the 2014 plants found in the garden include:
- Abutilon, Aconitum (monkshood), Actaea (Cimicifuga)
- Ageratum (flossflower), Ajuga, Allium (onion), Aloysia
- Alchemilla mollis (lady’s mantle), Amaranthus caudatus
- Begonia, Centranthus, Ceratrum, Chrysanthemum
- Dahlia, Dianthus, Digitalis, Echinacea, Filipendula rubra
- Helianthus, Hibiscus, Iris, Polygonatum, Sanvitalia
Gorgeous Flower Garden
I am not sure when it was that I discovered Thuya Garden but I do remember how surprised that I was that such a beautiful place existed on Mount Desert Island for so long before I learned about it. Perhaps this was because it was not actually part of Acadia National Park and it was set off in a wooded area from the normal travel routes. Either way, I was very impressed and eager to go back. This is a great location for most anyone who appreciates quiet reflection and beauty melded into one place. It is great for casual strolls, sitting, and photography. Plan on having a fair amount of time set aside. You will be glad that you did. Take a tripod if you have one. With the tall trees on the eastern side, early in the day is often in shadow. This is also a good location for macro shooting. Watch for hummingbirds that are often zipping around. Make a point of trying the Asticou Terraces as well.