Peaceful Northport Memorial Park next for Open Garden Days
Northport — Belfast Garden Club’s Open Garden Days series visits John J. Coughlin Memorial Park, 526 Bluff Road, Northport on Friday, Aug. 16, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the garden for a donation of $4 for the day. Proceeds will benefit the Belfast Garden Club’s civic beautification projects.
The Coughlin Garden was started in the late 70s as a simple vine-clearing project. Today small gardens sprout almost on their own, as if directed by nature.
“I have very little interest in formal gardening,” Joanne Coughlin explains, “[I prefer to] stay with nature, and see what it does by itself.”
A true outdoors lover, Joanne spends lots of time exploring in the woods behind the garden. She’s made friends with the birds that visit, and knows where the skunks, deer and turkeys live. Her family has been coming to this part of Northport since her grandfather bought a camp here in 1927.
The property holds many fond childhood memories for Joanne, of visiting two older women who lived in a house at the edge of the thicket, and when it came up for sale she had to have it.
“It was a jungle when we bought it,” she laughs, “the kids and I knew there was a frog pond back there somewhere and we would bushwhack to get to it.”
The Coughlins have worked over the years to clear the ample space, which they keep well manicured. As a result, the trees that were here — pine, maple, birch and ash — stand tall and regal, letting in a peaceful dappled sunlight. In the understory swaths of native plants, hostas, lilies and wildflowers grow in the woodland garden. The small frog pond has been significantly enlarged and enhanced, a wooden bridge was added on the side of the pond where it tends to stay marshy much of the summer, and a fountain now shoots water 25 feet into the air!
In 2000 the garden was officially designated The John K. Coughlin Memorial Park in memory of the Coughlin’s late son. An angel statue now overlooks the pond in his memory. Since then, the Coughlin’s have enjoyed hosting dances, dinners, cookouts, craft shows with organizations in the neighborhood.
A painter, printmaker and photographer, Joanne sees animals or faces in stumps, branches, rocks. “I can’t look at pieces of wood without seeing something in it,” she says.
Throughout the garden, visitors will discover natural elements re-purposed as sculpture from Coughlin’s explorations. At the forest’s edge a trail has been cut where some of her latest creations have been taking shape. A collection of fairy houses are sprouting up here, made of stumps, moss and bark and complete with stone walkways or shell shingles and bottle chimneys from an old bottle pile in the woods. Joanne delights in giving each a clever name.
To 526 Bluff Road: From Belfast take Route 1 south to Northport. Turn left on Bayside Road at Dos Amigos Mexican Restaurant, follow road South about 1 mile to the first “Y,” right after the end of the golf course. Turn right on Bluff Road, drive 0.2 miles and past the golf club main entrance and water works. You are looking for a red garage with 497 on the front across the street from the sign reading “Coughlin” at a red cottage at 526 Bluff Road. Please park on the right side, in the second driveway at the far end of the garden. Limited handicap accessibility.
The next BGC Open Garden Day will be Friday, Aug. 23, at the Allmayer-Beck Garden, 45 Lincolnville Avenue, Belfast. Diane's quirky garden designed to attract wildlife and birds living in the adjacent undeveloped boggy woods and field.
For more information about Belfast Garden Club’s Open Garden Days call Diane Allmayer-Beck at 338-3105, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.belfastgardenclub.org .