Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens aspires for all people to have the opportunity to engage meaningfully with the natural world.
Its Gardens for All program is an effort to make the gardens as accessible as possible and to ensure guests’ financial situations do not limit their ability to visit. Through the program, anyone eligible may visit the gardens at no cost, and recipients may receive up to four general admission tickets per visit.
“We’re constantly working toward creating more equitable and accessible ways for people to engage with us where they feel welcome, safe, and able to connect with nature,” said Gretchen Ostherr, president and CEO of Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. “The Gardens for All program makes the gardens an economically accessible destination for all Mainers.”
Early on, the program was a success.
“Even with minimal advertising, over 3,700 people accessed Gardens for All in its first season,” Ostherr said. “We modeled this program after other botanic gardens around the country and were delighted to see Mainers using it. In the future, we hope that participation will increase with more advertising and grassroots outreach throughout the state.”
That outreach will probably happen quickly. This past December, Mainebiz featured the gardens on the cover of its “Book of Lists 2023,” where Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens was ranked the third-most visited tourist attraction in Maine, coming in behind first place Acadia and just a breadth behind the number two spot, Sugarloaf.
This season, new and returning guests can look forward to discovering (or rediscovering) the Guardians of the Seeds, artist Thomas Dambo’s five giant trolls. Now in their third year, the trolls have taken up permanent residence, here to stay and evolve over time.
The first of Dambo’s permanent installations in the U.S., the gardens’ trolls are now part of a worldwide scavenger hunt to find the artist’s secret 100th troll. Dambo chose the gardens for its beautiful Maine landscape, sustainably-minded programming, and overall connection to his mission of using recycled materials to create something new.
“The trolls tell a unique story of sustainability and protecting nature that is echoed in everything our organization stands for,” Ostherr said.
Speaking of sustainably-minded programming, guests this season can also expect to see expanded drop-in experiential educational programs that offer more opportunities to connect with nature and learn about actions they can take in their own backyards to protect the planet.
The gardens open for the season May 1.
At nearly 325 acres, Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens is the largest public garden in New England. The nationally recognized public garden features two miles of hiking trails, 19 acres of ornamental and themed gardens, a children’s garden, a sensory garden, and so much more. The mission of the gardens is to inspire meaningful connections among people, plants, and nature through horticulture, education, and research.
For more information, go to mainegardens.org.