Open Garden Days

July 14 tour: scenic views from artist’s gardens

Jun 29, 2017
Entrance to the Reads' kitchen garden on Appleton Ridge, on tour July 14 as part of Belfast Garden Club's Open Garden Days.

Richly varied ornamental gardens with sweeping valley views are next in Belfast Garden Club’s Open Garden Days 2017. The public is invited to visit the Appleton Ridge property of Bart and Abbie Read from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, July 14.

The Reads’ 55-acre parcel contains open fields, shady woods, and masses of plantings established with an artist’s eye. Abbie Read’s charming studio anchors the property at the base of a long driveway.

The two-story artist’s studio is surrounded by beds she began planting more than two decades ago, when she still ran her garden design business, ARTgarden. Stone walkways wind through the hardy Zone 4 plantings that can weather ridge winds.

Mounds of hostas of every imaginable species fill out the beds that are rich with other perennials, featuring “the usual and the unusal,” Abbie Read said, including such shade plants as Astilboides tabularis and Lingularia japonica, or “Chinese Dragon.”

More beds line the driveway up at the house. A sunny kitchen garden in front is bordered by espaliered apple trees. It contains vegetable beds, a water feature, and still more ornamental plants in beds and in pots. Look for blooming day lilies of every hue on tour day.

The Reads' home is situated across the valley from Appleton Creamery, which is owned and operated by Abbie’s sister, Caitlin Hunter. The manure her goats provide makes for rich compost in the Reads’ verdant gardens.

Abbie’s studio will also be open on tour day. It is crammed with items odd and old, plain and peculiar, that she uses in her three-dimensional wall pieces, constructions, and collages. Her work has been shown everywhere from the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Doha, Qatar, to the Portland Museum of Art, to the former Åarhus Gallery in downtown Belfast.

She has a bachelor’s degree in studio art and art history from Oberlin College, an MFA in mixed media from the School of Art at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and a degree in landscape design. She and Bart moved to Appleton in 1998, where she relocated her landscape business and worked with clients until 2011, when she decided to dedicate her days exclusively to art. The studio retains the name ARTgarden, “where ideas germinate, develop and mature.”

The Reads invite Open Garden Days visitors to bring a picnic lunch and spend time taking in the view. There is an outhouse on the property.

To get there from Belfast, take Route 3 to Route 131 South through Searsmont. Pass through the village, bear right onto Appleton Ridge Road and take it the entire 7.3 miles to the Reads’ property at 64 Appleton Ridge Road. Most of the road is paved, but some parts are bumpy dirt (stunning views make up for the jouncing).

Or stay on Route 131 through Appleton village, past Appleton Village School to Route 105 West. Take a right on 105, then turn left on Appleton Ridge Road; number 64 is a short way up on the right.

For more information, visit or call club member Marje Stickler at 338-5059.





Hosta gardens at the Read home on Appleton Ridge, open for touring July 14. Visitors are invited to bring a picnic lunch.
Artist and gardener Abbie Read's art studio.
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