Visitors on the Friday, June 11 Belfast Garden Club’s Open Garden are in for a treat when they visit this week’s garden at the home of Roger and Letha Wood, 580 Castine Road, Orland.

Over 40 plus years, the Woods have developed an extended-season garden which dazzles from early spring to late fall. It is a well-planned, neatly manicured, and creative garden featuring swaths of garden beds lined with rock walls and filled with unusual spring and summer bulbs, perennials, and annuals, as well as many traditional blooms.

The garden boasts many climbing vines and roses including 15 different clematis, a diverse and unusual selection of lilacs, as well as many flowering or fruiting shrubs and trees. Structural features include a square screen room; a solar-heated, in-ground pool, extensive hand-built rock walls, and the garden shed to beat all garden sheds (outfitted completely with functioning antiques).

The Woods grew up in Waldo county, both graduated from Crosby High School in Belfast, and Letha worked as a nurse at Waldo County General Hospital for 16 years. They moved to their Orland property in the late fall of 1967.

“There was nothing here [garden wise] but a place for a vegetable garden and two window boxes on the front of the house,” Letha Wood recalls.

Over the years they have planted all the flowers, cleared a large area for lawn, dug the hole for the pool, and built many rock walls (from the rocks that came out of the lawn and pool areas, as well as many from Roger’s childhood farm). In addition Letha has planted over forty shrubs and trees on the property.

Letha is the flower and shrub gardener, and Roger is the vegetable gardener. “My husband helps me with all the heavy stuff.” Letha says emphatically, “I absolutely couldn’t do this without him; we make a good team.”

The Woods both get their green thumbs genetically. “My husband was brought up on a farm in Swanville,” Letha says. “His mother was a fabulous vegetable gardener. I grew up in Belmont; my parents had a big vegetable garden, and my mother was a flower gardener. So it is in our blood, and it is a family trait — both our girls like to garden as well.”

Letha knows the names (many of the Latin as well as common names) of nearly all of the hundreds of plants in her garden, from delphinium, Joe pie weed, and Maltise Cross, to campanya carpaticus, dictamnus (gas plant), Dichelostemma and more.

The Wood Garden is a delightful combination of full sun summer flower displays, dappled shade areas, and rock gardens radiating around the house, along and under the trees at the edges of some gloriously green lawn. The gardens are studded with well-placed birdhouses, found objects, and whimsical sculptures that call to visitors to explore this sizeable landscape. One garden sculpture designed by Letha is created from an iron wheel, a wheelbarrow and a watering can.

One of the big successes of this year’s garden is the discovery of worms in the soil in the shade garden near the pool. “The soil was very poor there,” Letha recalls. “Things were limping along in that part of the garden, but not thriving”. So a few years ago Letha added nutrients to the soil by planting lasagna-style with seafood compost, newspaper, and straw. “This spring when I dug into it, I had worms! I’m so happy with this bed now”, she grins. The well-nourished plants in this shady garden look great, and include an unusual hellebore with a green blossom you can hardly distinguish form the leaf, Jack-in-the-pulpit, painted fern, peony, celodine poppies, Echinacea, centia Fuchsia, and Rodgersia.

Another impressive section of the garden is the well-established display of shrubs Letha has planted across the garden. The collection includes, Weeping Cherry, Japanese Red Maple, Korean Vibernum, Enkianthus, deutzia, star magnolia, Prunus (cherry), yellow nine dart, and Pee Gee Hydranga which are planted to blossom from one end to the other (Weeping Cherry to the Pee Gee Hydrangea) in order throughout the year.

What will be in bloom for visitors? Letha Wood reports that there will be a broad selection of annuals, perennials and summer bulbs blooming on Friday. The highlights are likely to include: several Allium including Harry Green Allium (small flowering ball, with crinkly green radiating flower sprigs), Amsonia, Rheum Ornamental Rhubarb, Camus, iris, and poppies including a rare blue poppy, Meconopsis grandis. Some of the garden’s most showy and beautiful roses now have mature buds and will likely be in bloom including David Austin’s Golden Celebration Rose, and ‘William Baffin’ climbing rose.

In addition to the gardens, a display of Letha Wood’s botanical oil paintings, and garden photography and Debbie Holmes’ cement garden objects will be for sale in the outside screen room. The Wood’s collection of antique vehicles will be on display including a 1955 red pick-up truck and a 1950 convertible. Their shop adjacent to the gardens, Carriage Shed Antiques, will be open as well, featuring automotive-related antiques. The Woods invite visitors to bring a blanket and a picnic lunch to enjoy at the garden.

Directions to the Wood garden: Route 1 north through Bucksport towards Ellsworth. Turn right on to Route 175 (aka Castine Road), travel 2.6 miles. The property is on the left, with a sign for Carriage Shed Antiques. Once you get close, follow the yellow Open Garden arrows. There is parking on the property beyond the antique shop.

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 Open Garden Days will benefit the Belfast Garden Club’s civic beautification projects.

The 5th annual Belfast Garden Club Open Garden Days feature 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 .- 4 p.m. Fridays, through September 10.

The next Tour takes place Friday, June 18th at the Anthony-Greeley Garden, 291 Hatch Road, Jackson. Sweeping panoramic views surround island beds of rare perennials and trees. Visitors can expect extensive shade gardens, rock gardens, rambling paths through fascinating woodland plants, and a small formal garden. Iced tea will be provided. Bring a picnic and a blanket.

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