Block screened porch
The screened porch offers an expansive view of the Little River

The second stop in Belfast Garden Club’s Open Garden Days is Friday, June 24, at 1485 Atlantic Highway in Northport, a large and varied property on a rise with a postcard view of Little River in back and a peek of Penobscot Bay in front. Martha and Sid Block’s gardens and the first floor of their home—with an original section built in 1800—will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., rain or shine.

Block peonies & porch. Martha Laitin Photo
Block peonies & porch. Martha Laitin Photo

Martha Block has put in her natural, informal and “always evolving” gardens over the past decade, with an eye toward using shrubbery for winter interest and spring blooms.

“There are certain things I like, and I plant them all over the yard,” she said. Lilacs, azaleas and rhododendrons of every type flourish on the property. Some are specimens she has dug up and brought with her over the course of two moves, including a huge Merley Cream rhododendron that stands among flowering crab apple trees on the front lawn. Block says she never walks through the yard without clippers in hand to snip errant branches. She propagates many of her shrubs by laying them on the ground, covering them with soil and letting them sprout up as new plants.

Block Dining Room
The Block dining room dates back to 1800

A bed along the driveway features red vein enkianthus, which she saw at Asticou Gardens in Bar Harbor and then tracked down at a local nursery. In curved beds at the front of the house, direct sun encourages tulips and narcissus in the spring, and hybrid and heirloom roses and peonies in the summer. Swiss chard and an Elliot blueberry bush are planted there because they love the light. A profusion of perennials includes foxgloves, veronica, Russian sage and poppies.

The entryway displays arrangements created from the garden.
The entryway displays arrangements created from the garden.

Block’s informal beds allow for volunteer lupines and Johnny jump-ups and she works around the property’s shifting flows. When a huge ash tree fell, it made a newly sunny area that has become home for her collection of irises, including favorites like “Irish Mist,” which she got from hybridizer and author Dr. O. Currier McEwen, a former dean of NYU School of Medicine, who later lived in Harpswell, Maine.

The original carriage house was moved and is now used as a potting shed.

A field on one side of the driveway is thick with lupine in early summer. The original carriage house has been moved there and turned into an airy potting shed. Peach trees grow nearby and beds feature strawberries, raspberries and asparagus.

Block glass house. Martha Laitin Photo
Glass house made from windows donated by a friend. Martha Laitin Photo

The view from the back porch and from inside the house stars the Little River where it widens and slows before plunging over a dam and streaming into the bay. An ancient tangle of blackberry bushes was pushed downhill to make way for a terraced garden flush with various species of peonies.

You’re welcome to bring a picnic lunch to enjoy at outdoor tables with water views. Mountain laurels, peonies, old-fashioned roses and a Japanese lilac tree may be among the plants expected to be in bloom on tour day. Park along the road and walk up the driveway, past the weeping Siberian spruce. Two handicapped spaces will be available at the top of the driveway.

A $5 donation is requested at each location in the Open Garden Days series (you can buy a money-saving strip of eight for $30 at Left Bank Books in Belfast). Proceeds help the Club maintain 12 public gardens and give two annual scholarships to Waldo County youth studying “green” fields, among other Club endeavors.

Directions: Located on U.S. Rt.1 at the Belfast/Northport town line.  Park along the road and walk in the driveway, please.

For more information, contact Martha Laitin at 323-2368.

(left to right):
Troy Howard May 27, 2016 005

Back - Westley Dyer, Maury Hepner (Garden Club member and community volunteer), Corliss Davis (Garden Club President), David Wessels (Troy Howard Garden Coordinator)

Front - Gracie Coombs (with Hoohah the bunny), Haley Wood, Kaydee Pearse, Mason Paul, Eiyah Jackson, and Alex Gerrish.

On Thursday, May 27 the Belfast Garden Club was delighted to present a check for $500 to David Wessels for the "Get Growing!" program at Troy Howard Middle School. The check will be used for scholarships to support 15-20 summer student interns. Mostly 6th to 8th graders, they will work from June 20 to July 28.

In 2015, the Belfast Garden Club donated the following new garden and horticulture books to the Belfast Free Library. The books were purchased with funds raised at the Green Thumb Plant Sale held in May.

Adult Books
McDowel, M. 2013.  Beatrix Potter's Gardening Life
Lowenfels, J. 2013.  Teaming with Nutrients: The Organic Gardener's Guide to Optimizing Plant Nutrition
Druse, K. 2015.  The New Shade Garden: Creating a Lush Oasis in the Age of Climate Change
Dowden, A.O. 1990.  The Clover and the Bee: A Book of Pollination
Walliser, J. 2014.  Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden
Chapman, B. 2014.  The Plant Recipe Book: 100 Living Arrangements for any Home in any Season

Books for Children
Raymond, Roberta.  Amy and the Amaryllis
The Editors of Klutz. 2010. Good Growing: A Kid's Guide to Green Gardening
Donalson, J. and N. Sharratt. 2009.  One Mole Digging a Hole
Brown, P. 2009.  The Curious Garden
Morris, K. and J. Kirasu. 2000.  The Jumbo Book of Gardening
Snodgrass Wiedenheft, J. and G. Anderson. 2013.  Hunting Red

The library displays the new books for public perusal before placing them on the shelves for circulation.

The Belfast Garden Club fosters the acquisition of knowledge of gardening and protection of native flora and fauna. The club has promoted civic beautification since 1929. The club welcomes new members and volunteers year round and extends a warm welcome to all.

On behalf of the Belfast Garden Club, Donna Busch, chair of the club's Book Committee (R), presents a donation of gardening and horticultural related books to Steve Norman (L), director of the Belfast Free Library. (Photo by Martha Laitin)
On behalf of the Belfast Garden Club, Donna Busch, chair of the club's Book Committee (R), presents a donation of gardening and horticultural related books to Steve Norman (L), director of the Belfast Free Library. (Photo by Martha Laitin)


A bronze plaque on a stone marker was dedicated to Blanche Foss in the Belfast Free Library's Miller Street garden on Wednesday, July 8.

The plaque marks the date of the Belfast resident's passing, September 29, 2014. It was purchased with donations from Belfast Garden Club members, who wanted to remember Blanche in the garden she cared for as a member of the club's Civic Beautification Committee.

Some 25 people, including her children-Scott Foss of Truckee, CA, and Lisa Foss of Pinellas Park, FL-attended the morning ceremony. The Club provided coffee cakes, cookies and lemonade at a reception held after the stone was placed by Scott Foss.

"Mom always loved to garden," recalled Lisa Foss, who said her mother belonged to the Vernon Garden Club when the family lived in Connecticut, where Blanche worked as an educator. "She met many wonderful people and enjoyed many trips to see gardens around the country."

After Blanche retired, she moved back to Belfast, the town where she grew up and graduated from Crosby High School in 1960 (her maiden name was Ferguson). She continued to garden-at home and as a member of the Belfast Garden Club, Lisa Foss said. She also became a Master Gardener. "Mom loved to share plants with as many friends as possible. Her plants have found homes from Florida to California and many places in between," Lisa Foss said.

Lisa Foss said the plaque captures her mother's love for gardening and for Belfast, and that the ceremony made for "a special day."

The Belfast Garden Club has awarded its two annual scholarships to Zachary Beaudry of Searsport and Caleb Lord of Winterport. They will each receive $1,000.

Beaudry will be a junior at the University of Maine Orono in the fall. He is studying Wildlife Ecology with a concentration in wildlife science and management. For the past five summers, he has worked with the Friends of the Cobbossee Watershed, helping to combat invasive plants in the watershed's lakes and strea ms. He said a particular concern is variable-leaf water milfoil, a non-native plant that crowds out native vegetation and clogs waterways.

Beaudry has been the head diver, weeding the invasive plants by their roots from the lake sediment. In four years, Friends of the Cobbossee Watershed have removed over 45,000 gallons of unwanted plants. Beaudry is also an undergraduate technician in the entomology lab/research program at U Maine. ...continue reading

There is a new way to enjoy "Our Town Belfast." Have you heard about the Belfast in-town nature trail? Co-sponsored by the Belfast Garden Club, members of the Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition mapped out and created the five mile walking trail. To download a copy of the trail map and guide, go to and click on Learn More About Us, then Belfast In-Town Nature Trail Map and Guide.

Donna Busch from the Belfast Garden Club presents gardening books for the Maine Coastal Regional Reentry Center’s Garden Project to Bill Browning, Community Resource Coordinator. Photo by Martha Laitin
Donna Busch from the Belfast Garden Club presents gardening books for the Maine Coastal Regional Reentry Center’s Garden Project to Bill Browning, Community Resource Coordinator. Photo by Martha Laitin

Belfast Garden Club members showed support for the Maine Coastal Regional Reentry Center’s Garden Program by donating instructive books to the Reentry Center’s library on growing vegetables and preparing nutritious meals after harvesting the bountiful food.  Club members gave books from their personal collections and purchased new books for the project.  The books will be available to residents at the Reentry Center’s library in Belfast to assist them in learning gardening techniques for northern climate gardens, general good gardening principles, and using the produce in the kitchen to make healthy meals.