And the wind upon its way whispered the boughs of May, And touched the nodding peony flowers to bid them waken. ~ Siegfried Sassoon
Friends I had the most spectacular day back in June! I had a free morning before I was to meet my friend for a post birthday celebratory lunch (yes friends I celebrated ALL month long friends ALL month long!) and I decided to go adventuring. It was a very impromptu stop, but I am SO Happy I did it. For anyone who knows me you know peonies are one of my favorite flowers (the other being orchids!) and when I heard there was a farm that had peonies I knew I had to stop. Of course I had no idea just how amazing it was going to be, because lawd did they have peonies!
Gilsland Farms is located in Falmouth Maine along the Presumpscot River and is one of eight sanctuaries in Maine’s Audubon System. Comprised of 64 acres of fields, salt marshes, orchards, and forest it has extensive trails you can hike through and explore the vast scenery. While it has a long history dating back to the Wabanakis, the beginnings of the farm began in the mid 1800s serving as a stark contrast against the countless mills which filled the area at the time. It was bought by a conservationist and lawyer in 1911 it soon became an award winning farm specializing in herding cattle and beautiful nurseries filled with flowers and plants. One of which, was the owner’s Peonies, of which there were 400 different types planted across seven acres.
In keeping with the owners conservation efforts, the family gifted the farm to the Maine Audubon System in 1974 where they have continued cultivating and preserving the area. Not only is it open year round, but it is free to the public to use. The only caveat is that dogs are not allowed, even leashed. It also serves as an educational hub for families and holds day camps for students. They also have venues for weddings and other special events and with the stunning scenery, it certainly makes for a gorgeous backdrop.
The farm is located off of Route One, but you would never know it. I was talking to a friend and she said she had no idea it was there. And you wouldn’t unless you were looking for it. Yet, the moment you turn off what Maine designates as their ocean highway, onto the dirt road, you are immediately greeted with an oasis of greenery. The original farm house is still standing and at first I thought that was the extent of it. And I don’t think I was the only one. Next to the farm house are gorgeous community gardens that those who live around the Audubon work on.
There is also a scenic vista that overlooks some of the meadow and marsh lands, with trails that you can walk on. I decided to take one of those and it took me right through the meadow down to the marshy water. It was a quick walk and I as I made my way to the look out I could see cars driving farther down the dirt road and I decided to explore. I am SO happy I did! At the end of the road, there was a huge wrap around parking lot with the Audubon Welcome Center, and even more trails and grounds. And the best part? The peonies!
Friends it legit felt like a dream! The peonies, which can be date back to David Moulton, the conservationist who planted them in 1911, were some of the biggest I have ever seen. The colors were stunning! SO many varying shades of pinks and whites, I could have filled my camera with them and kind of did.
Since I was there first thing in the morning, I was one of the only ones there and so I grabbed my tripod and had a mini photo shoot, which included dancing amongst the peonies. I have walked (and yes also danced) among the sunflowers, and to walk the lavender fields in France is on my bucket list, but there with my favorite flower was absolute heaven! It fit so special and I did not want to leave!
Everyone should put this on their bucket list and the amazing part it is free! While they have the main garden, there are peonies sprinkled all around the Welcome Center, some that are as tall as I am! While the Gilsland is open year round, they do have set hours so I would double check before going. When I went, they opened at ten. Also do not be turned off by the road and first parking lot which many cars park there for a number of reasons. While they do have overflow parking, when I went, the main parking lot was not full at all. They have maps if you want to go for a nature hike. And while I always joke I am from the White Mountains, it was very muddy, so I don’t recommend wearing flip-fops. I typically bring a change of clothes; some for taking pictures and then others to get my walking on. Lastly have fun! It is such a gorgeous place. If I lived closer I would go every day.
Have you ever walked through flower fields? What is your favorite flower?