Ted and Anna Kessler of Searsport will open their garden Friday, May 28, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., for the first tour of the season of the Belfast Garden Club’s 2010 Open Garden Days.

Visitors who come for the tour are likely to be treated first to a lovely, cool salt breeze, swirled with the sweet scent of lilac as they make their way into the 7 Navy St. garden.

Anna Kessler, who originally hails from England, has gardening in her blood. “I spent lots of time following our gardener, Mr. Bishop”, she recalled, “I was fascinated by his pointy waxed mustache, and from age 3 on I watched everything that he did.” She was encouraged at that early age to experiment and grow things. “I was given my own little plot where I could plant and tend flowers, squash … anything. It was mine to do with as I wished.”

She and her husband, Ted, moved to their Searsport home seven years ago and began their garden from a variety of plots that the previous owner, also a gardener, had started. The couple clearly has a strong eye for design (they both enjoy watercolor painting, and Anna is a certified florist, and a trained student of the Ikebana Sogetsu School) for they have taken a small property, seamlessly integrated rock walls and plantings of all types to meander in and amongst, giving it a much larger feel.

The Kessler garden is a place of respite and relaxation with glimmers of color, rolling sections of green, tender, shady gardens, and many varieties of roses. A small orchard of apple and peach trees stands in front of a hedge of Rosa rugosa, sumac, and willow, which becomes a great trellis for an impressive 100-year-old purple Wisteria that trails over the top of it all.

Central to the property are two large perennial gardens connected by an arch, they are full of roses, peony, lilac and other summertime treats. Across the yard is a potting shed, a stand of high bush blueberries, raspberries, lilac and a substantial number of prepared beds where the annuals and vegetable garden will be producing before too long.

Anna, who is also a certified Maine master gardener, grows many plants for Verona Island Flowers, where she is a floral designer for weddings and events. She prefers wilder, less fussy arrangements, which can include many annual and perennial flowers as well as roses, willow, hazel and natural grasses, which she lets grow freely on a grand, wild lupine bank.

“A weed is only a weed…” she said with a twinkle. Kessler loves poppies and columbine and saves their seeds each year to spread them around from a jam jar in the fall so that they can come up in whatever part of the garden they are happiest in. One of her favorite bulb flowers is a lily flowered tulip variety named White Elegance featuring striking white flared tips which she planted for a bride who wanted white tulips at her July wedding. “I planted them in a shady spot, and got about three to hold up for her in July!” she said, still surprised.

One of Anna’s favorite parts of her garden is a small memory garden the Kesslers have recently begun to cultivate that includes plants their mothers and aunts grew when Ted and Anna were children. There is sweet woodruff from Ted’s mother’s beloved garden, a cheerful, tiny white flower with marvelous celebratory leaves. The garden also includes woodsy bluebells, called Scilla in the U.S., which Anna has included here as a memory flower of her youth in England, and a variegated pale green and white hosta, given to the Kesslers by a neighbor who has since passed away. Future plans for the memory garden include transplanting some little wood anemones and primrose that Anna collected from her family plot at the cemetery where her parents rest back in her hometown in England.

What is likely to be in bloom for the tour? “It’s been a strange spring, we’re about three weeks ahead,” Anna Kessler reported. She anticipates that visitors are likely to be treated with early summer blooms, and has seen blossom potential in her poppies, bearded iris, peony, a carmine red tree peony, the 100-year-old purple Wisteria, clematus, Rosa glauca and lupine.

Others that have already started to bloom but will likely still be on view include columbine, lilac, quince, cherry, wild strawberries, sweet woodruff, and bluebell.

From Route 1 in the center of Searsport, drive a half-mile north to Navy Street. The Kesslers’ is the third driveway on the right. Once you get close, follow the yellow Garden Tour arrows.

Tickets can be purchased at each garden on the day of the tour for a donation of $4 for one garden, or $15 for a five-visit ticket. Proceeds from the 2010 Garden Tour will benefit the club’s civic beautification projects.

The 5th annual Belfast Garden Club Open Garden Days features 14 gardens from Belfast to Searsport, Jackson to Orland and in between. One garden per week will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays, from May 28-Sept. 10.

The next tour in the series takes place Friday, June 4, at the Allmayer-Beck garden, 45A Lincolnville Ave., Belfast. This garden is designed to attract wildlife and birds living in the adjacent undeveloped boggy woods. Features include herbs, raised vegetable beds, perennials, succulents and a heart-shaped rose garden, as well as birdhouses, birdbaths, a small pond and many found objects.

For more information call Diane Allmayer-Beck at 338-3105, Martha Laitin at 948-2815, or visit belfastgardenclub.org.