Hordes of hostas call this place Holden home

Hordes of hostas call this place Holden home

By Aurelia C. Scott
Photos by Dave Dostie
From the September 2022 issue

In 2000, Deb and Doug Schmidt decided they were tired of bushwhacking through the forest of cedars and evergreen trees behind their Holden home in order to get to the closest of the three ponds on their 20-acre property. So they thinned out a few trees and opened a country road from the house to the water. Depp wanted to add a little greenery along the walkway. Knowing that grass doesn't grow in shade, she tried hostas — just two of them at first, and they thrived.

So Dib planted more. Then still more. “I would add a few here, and then I would realize I needed others there,” she recalls with a laugh. “I kept planting until I reached the pond.”

Today, 500 species of hostas cover the two-acre orchard between the Schmidts' home and the pond. Wavy-edged hostas, including Donahue Piecrust and Jade Cascade, blend with green and white Angel Eyes and Fallen Angel. The golden-green Sum and Substance and its sports, Beauty Substance and Sum of All, brighten the darkest spots. Gray Ghost and Whitewall frames become dull in the spring before gaining color. Most of the plants come from Fernwood Nursery and Gardens, in Montville, which specializes in native and woodland plants. Owners Rick and Dennis Sawyer taught the Schmidts what and where to grow. “And their gardens are an inspiration,” Deb adds.

Native ferns, cream forest peony, white Solomon's seal and yellow silphium are among the abundant self-reproducing hostas. A few paths, lined with granite and strewn with moss and pine needles, now pass through the shaded haven. The pond filled with trout sparkles behind the trees. The Schmidts welcome groups of children and veterans to catch and release fish — and visiting children also enjoy the small “Pirate Island,” complete with a sunken rowboat and skeleton.

A visitor to the garden that Deb Schmidt has filled with hostas can knock on the lively barn door. However, they will not find anything behind it.

Schmidt's ownership is more unusual still. Instead of putting up a simple fence along their property line, Deb and Doug commissioned a series of false facades for fake buildings. These include a gray-panelled barn facade with dark pink doors, the front porch of a mock farmhouse, a mock casino and a country store, where the front door opens to reveal a pile of leaves. A bear statue, one of many, stands guard outside. Bought at Belfast Beerfest auctions in the early 2000s, the bears are the work of artists and others around Belfast and include the Armored Excalibear, which was made by a welding class and moves a wheelbarrow, and the Hellraiser Bear, which has bristles with spikes. Sleeping Bear lies among Dark Star's hosts, soothed by the sound of water flowing across a patch of stable into a rock-edged pool behind the house.

“The garden is a green bridge to the pond,” says Deb. “We love it every season – even in winter, when we remember what bloomed and look forward to seeing it again.”

May 2024, Downeast MagazineMay 2024, Downeast Magazine

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