SEARSPORT — Two Searsport gardens will be featured Friday, July 23, as part of Belfast Garden Club’s Open Garden Day. Both are unique and within a 15-minute walk of each other.

One is a former sea captain’s home at 127 E. Main St., the other at 11 Water St. features a sun, shade and woodland garden bordering the Mill Brook.

The gardens will open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., rain or shine. A $5 donation admits visitors to both gardens (checks or exact change is appreciated) and additional donations to support the Garden Club are welcome.

In the three years since Dawn Gintz purchased the historic Captain Nickels Inn at 127 E. Main St., she has expanded the gardens surrounding the bed and breakfast and created several sitting areas, many

One of the many sitting areas in the gardens of the Captain Nickels Inn.

with commanding views of Penobscot Bay. Coming from Florida, Gintz said it has been a learning process knowing when plants bloom and what plants go together. The gardens of the Captain Nickels

A brick pathway leads to the main entrance of the Captain Nickels Inn.

Inn are informal, consisting primarily of perennial flowers and shrubs, with water views. The house and tavern will be open to visitors and Gintz can answer any questions about the inn’s history. “Gardening is something I really love to do,” she said.

Janine Carpenter grew up in a family of gardeners. Her home at 11 Water St. was her mother’s house originally. She bought it and has been working on the garden for the past three years. “The bones of it are hers,” she said, adding that some plants are from her grandmother’s garden. In the last few years, Carpenter lost several large trees in her yard, which she said transformed her landscape from shade to sun. “It’s a work in progress,” she notes. Carpenter’s expansive garden in her back yard is partly sunny, part shady, and a meandering path leads visitors to a wooded wonderland lined with all kinds of ferns adjacent to Mill Brook.

A shady trail leads through a wooded fern garden at Janine Carpenter’s home.

The cool shade is a perfect respite on a hot day, with the path ending where the stream meets the bay. Carpenter said Maine is a great place to grow flowers with so much moisture in the air, allowing plants to last longer. Her garden, she said, has “been a blessing” during the pandemic; seeing the changes in the landscape has inspired her. “There’s always something blooming in here,” she said.

The Belfast Garden Club has promoted public gardens and stimulated the knowledge and love of gardening for more than 90 years. Proceeds from the club’s fundraising support local public gardens and several scholarship funds. For more information, visit


Captain Nickels 4:

Janine Carpenter 5: A shady trail leads through a wooded fern garden at Janine Carpenter’s home.