The next stop during our Mt. Desert Island visit was Thuya Garden, only ¼ to ½ mile from Asticou Gardens. Our brochure described a loop that hikers could use to travel between the two but since I misinterpreted the duration of that walk, we opted to begin our exploration from the lower parking area for Thuya Garden. From the parking area, visitors must cross Route 3 (please use caution in using the crosswalk) towards the Asticou Terraces trailhead.
The Terraces Trail designed and built by Joseph Henry Curtis around 1912 is an uphill journey of paths and granite steps. Our excursion began by climbing a series of granite steps, followed by the trail curving back and forth along the slope. As we made our ascent around each loop, we found sheltered huts looking out over Northeast Harbor. Each shelter was of a different design and each offered its own unique seating arrangements for the explorer to pause and enjoy the harbor views.
At the top of the hill, a well maintained path surrounded by low bushes, spruce and cedar trees took us past Thuya Lodge towards the garden gates. I had visited Thuya Gardens many years before and I could still remember how impressed I was by those gates. Designed by Charles Savage these doors were hand carved in cedar with each door displaying 24 natural history images. The carvings of those images were perfect, right down to the pileated woodpecker holes in a tree.
Like the Asticou Gardens, Thuya was also designed by Charles Savage and it was interesting to note the differences between the two. Asticou surrounded the visitor with the meditative peace of a Japanese garden while Thuya presented the disciplined structure of a formal English garden, its large expansive lawn bordered by flower beds inviting a different kind of contemplative study.
Once again, we noted each plant label for future reference and then promptly forgot it. We worked our way towards the far end of the garden, where a pavilion allowed visitors to look down the length of the garden. Nearby, we found a gate that indicated it was the trail towards Asticou Gardens.
From the pavilion we continued down the next row of flower beds before, pausing briefly to watch a Monarch butterfly flit among the flowers. Nearby we discovered a section of vegetation described as a Monarch hatchery. There were signs warning visitors not to disturb the chrysalises, so we strolled carefully through the area hoping to spot some evidence of a butterfly waiting to emerge. Since it was the beginning of October and we did not find any chrysalis, we assumed that all the butterflies had already dispersed for the season.
From the butterfly hatchery, we continued our exploration back towards the entrance. We paused to study an interesting spring house not far from a gate pointing the way to the Eliot Mountain Trail. We admired a nearby reflecting pool before heading through the gate.