September 7, 2010

The Curated Delights of Maine's Snug Harbor Farm

Image from the Snug Harbor Farm blog

It's Sunday morning in the near-coastal town of Kennebunk Maine, in a section known as ' Lower Village' . Kennebunk, once the town of wealthy sea captains, sea merchants, and known more for it's Wedding Cake house than it's garden centers, it is now the lesser sister to Kennebunkport ( where I spent summers as a kid). Before you hit the crowds, lobster rolls and traffic of Kennebunkport, why not stop and visit the peaceful and retreat-like garden and virtual escape of Sung Harbor Farm. Pick up some rare gourds, or perhaps a hand made garden pot.

A pair of chickens, 'free range' through the manicured topiary. Photo by Susan Costello.

This is a such a special place. The sort we plant lovers crave, and only rarely find. Walk amongst Pleached Hedges, the Topiary, the heirloom vegetables, the peafowl the collector fuchsia, hand-thrown pottery for the garden- all of this carefully created and curated by owner and garden designer  Tony Elliott, clearly a talented and well-informed plant person. If Linnaeus shopped here,  it wouldn't be long before there was an Antonius magnifageekii  ssp. curatoriata.


A Bespoke Poly Hoophouse at the Farm

 Thanks to fellow blog reader, and photographer Susan Costello who shared with me most of these images (except two from their blog), I now have discovered Snug Harbor Farm, in Lower Kennebunk Village, in Maine.  Only rarely does one find the perfect recipe of style, botanical geekness and quality design- clearly the owners know much, much more than just how to shove gallon pots of mums around on black weed-block cloth. The American Garden Center is changing, ( not fast), but the few who have the vision, guts and knowledge will rise quickly to the top.
 A wide selection of hand-thrown pottery at the farm

 A new consumer demands more, and sometime less. They want more style, more personality, more instant planting, or they are more knowledgable and expect hellebores in spring, and some at Christmas too. To sum it up, todays garden center customer is much more complex. Sure, there will always be the need for fast, instant disposable material like the most common of annuals and seasonal display material like bushel basket mums, but those are now easily found at the big box stores. Even my local super market has dwarf purple fall asters and white pumpkins. If you want heirloom speckled hungarian pumpkins and brilliant violet or white berried Callicarpa shrubs, you will still need to go to the specialist nursery.

Snug Harbor Farm is privately owned, and open most every day of the year. It caters to the more informed customer, the one who wants hand trained topiary, the one who appreciates rare cultivars and perfectly curated objet's for the garden. This is a place where it is not uncommon to see pleached hornbeam hedges like those seen at Versailles, or rare breeds of poultry and Peafowl, and greenhouses packed with meticulously tide rows of hand-trimmed topiary myrtles in hand-thrown terra cotta pots. You can almost imagine Alan Haskel swerving by in a gold cart, scotch in hand. If only he could have lived to see the new future of garden centers the likes of Terrain and Snug Harbor Farm.



  1. George7:26 PM

    Very nice, Susan. Our meetings start this Tuesday. Hope to see you again. Love your work.

  2. From one botanical geek to another, great pics and topiary.


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