Spring is blossoming here in midcoast Maine. Leaves have unfurled as if overnight. Suddenly the world is green again, and everyone wants to be outside, including the Belted Galloway calves at Rockport’s Aldermere Farm.
This farm, owned for years by the Chatfield family and now by Maine Coast Heritage Trust, was one of the first in the country to import this Scottish breed of beef cow. The famous “oreo” cows quickly became a local landmark. A walk along scenic, tree-shaded Russell Avenue is a popular outing for area visitors and locals alike, especially when the fuzzy, big-eared baby Belties show up in the fields each spring. Friday Farm Tours begin in late June, and the 136-acre property offers several hiking trails that are open to the public. Local gift shops sell a variety of unique souvenirs featuring these beloved cows.
Near Aldermere Farm the gardens of Vesper Hill Children’s Chapel are springing to life, as well. The chapel was built in 1960 by Helene Bok, whose dedication plaque reads, in part: “May the Lord bless all young people who come here for spiritual and mental refreshment.” The beauty of these carefully tended flower gardens and lawn, sheltered by tall pines ringing with birdsong, offers spiritual and mental refreshment for all ages. The non-denominational open-air chapel, with its ocean view, is a perfect spot for weddings and other special events.
Another hidden gem that never fails to rejuvenate my spirit with its gardens of spring flowers is Merryspring Nature Center, tucked away just off Route One near the Camden – Rockport town line. Founded in 1974, the 66-acre grounds feature specialty gardens (herbs, roses, day lilies, etc.), a greenhouse (with plants for sale), a gazebo popular for weddings and other special events, and wide open fields surrounded by lush pine woods laced with gentle hiking trails. This peaceful spot is a personal favorite for a quiet nature exploration, bird-watching, and family outings to see what’s in bloom. Merryspring also offers an interesting year-round schedule of talks and walks for gardeners and nature-lovers.