Good Natured

Native plants and perennials abound in these enviable Maine gardens by landscape architect Matthew Cunningham.

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Boasting nearly an acre of land, the verdant property overlooks the Mount Desert Narrows and Acadia National Park. / Courtesy Photo

After completing construction on their new summer cottage in Lamoine, Maine, a retired Texas couple turned their attention to the landscape of their waterfront property. To create a low- maintenance yet hardy green space that would complement the home’s rustic character and views of Acadia National Park, they sought help from landscape architect (and Maine native) Matthew Cunningham, owner of the eponymous Stoneham firm. Cunningham understood the unique challenges of working with the local terrain: “There’s this really intense fog that Downeasters say is as ‘thick as pea soup.’ It’s laden with salt, so picking a plant palette that can actually survive and thrive in that atmosphere is really important.”

Cunningham and the homeowners collaborated on several design options for the property, ultimately deciding to divide the landscape into two distinct spaces. Guests arrive at the home through a robust woodland garden, which features a walkway made from locally sourced granite. Intended to evoke the feeling of a Maine hillside, the garden includes bayberry shrubs, blueberries—a plus for the culinary-minded homeowners—and ultra-durable hay-scented fern, a native plant that Cunningham says “erupts with rich, buttery yellow” leaves in the fall. Toward the water, a stone staircase leads down the clambake-ready lawn to a fire pit with views of an aromatic perennial garden teeming with salt-tolerant plants such as purple coneflowers, shasta daisies, and veined cranesbill. In bloom from May to November, the perennial garden regularly plays host to pollinators like hummingbirds and butterflies. “The garden isn’t meant to be overly manicured,” says Cunningham, whose work on this project garnered recognition from the Association of Professional Landscape Designers. “It’s that Yankee perspective of ‘It doesn’t have to be fussy to be beautiful.’”

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Salt-tolerant perennials including common chives, blue hill salvia, and walker’s low catmint add pops of color. / Courtesy Photo

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labs of local granite create a path from the clamshell-paved parking court to the entrance of the cottage. / Courtesy Photo

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Ocean breezes and stunning views make the waterfront lawn a prime spot for gatherings with friends and family. / Courtesy Photo

Landscape Architect Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design
Contractor Atlantic Landscape Construction