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North by Northeast

Gardens of Mount Desert Island

Mount Desert's gardens are renowned throughout the Eastern seaboard for their beauty. "There's a combination of microclimates you don't find anywhere else," says landscape architect and island resident Patrick Chassé. "Within twenty miles we have meadows, uplands, hardwood forests, evergreen forests. That makes it a wonderful place to garden." Here, three of the best public gardens.
Asticou Azalea Garden
Rte. 3/198; no phone. Just across the street from the Asticou Inn, this Japanese-themed garden was built around several hundred prized azaleas (and more than 1,000 other plants) from the estate of the famed landscape architect Beatrix Farrand. Visitors stroll along a winding path to discover azaleas, mountain laurels, rhododendrons, and other native plants.
Thuya Garden
Peabody Dr., Northeast Harbor; 207/276-5130. This garden and its surrounding woods were given to the town by landscape architect Joseph Henry Curtis. The garden bursts with blossoms, its herbaceous borders brimming with meadow rue, delphinium, irises, dahlias, and some 350 other species.
Wild Gardens of Acadia
Sieur de Monts Spring, Acadia National Park; no phone. Among the many parcels of land donated to Acadia National Park by George B. Dorr was a three-quarter-acre swath of blackberry bushes near the Sieur de Monts spring, south of Bar Harbor. Today it's a garden of indigenous plants, a condensed version of the park's bounteous flora.

The Facts

Mount Desert Island lies an hour south of the Bangor airport. In July and August, temperatures can be extremely changeable, ranging from the mid forties to the mid eighties, and squalls can blow through at any time. When hiking or out on the water, always pack a rain slicker and a sweater or fleece.

WHERE TO STAY
Asticou Inn 15 Peabody Dr., Northeast Harbor; 800/258-3373 or 207/276-3344; www.asticou.com; doubles from $150. Offering high-church Yankee hospitality since 1883.
Claremont Hotel 20 Claremont Rd., Southwest Harbor; 207/244-5036; www.theclaremonthotel.com; doubles from $165. Long the Asticou's friendly rival and counterpart across the bay.
Grey Rock Inn Rte. 3/198, Northeast Harbor; 207/276-9360; www.greyrockinn.com; doubles from $185. A nine-room vacation "cottage" designed by Fred L. Savage, who built many of Mount Desert's most distinguished summer houses.
Maison Suisse Inn 144 Main St., Northeast Harbor; 800/624-7668 or 207/276-5223; www.maisonsuisse.com; doubles from $145. A 15-room shingle-style cottage at the center of Northeast Harbor's shopping street.
Knowles Co. 1 Summit Rd., Northeast Harbor; 207/276-3322. The area's most esteemed rental broker, offering cottages from $450 a week to $50,000 per month.

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