Towering pines, summer blooms and Japanese garden featured at Sears’ Garden

By Annadeene K. Fowler | Jun 07, 2012
Beautiful entrance at Sears' Garden.

On Friday, June 15, the Sears' Garden, at 9 Airmail Lane in East Belfast, will be featured as part of Belfast Garden Club’s Open Garden Days. The seaside garden will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Enjoy perennial favorites, wild flowers, a Japanese-style garden and a superb ocean view.

Garden visitors will feel they are entering a magical land as they make their way through the towering ancient-feeling pine forest to the Sears' home and garden. As you arrive, brilliant rhododendrons pop along the border of the driveway, and rustic rock beds flow together with swaths of colorful phlox, lilies, monarda, and astilbe. This is the 22nd year that Vicki Sears has been working in these gardens.

“I've stopped trying to force things,” she says. “Some plants just do better in this soil than others, and I let them work it out themselves.”

That is not to say that the garden is left wild. Specific color combinations and juxtapositions of shapes and color of vegetation are clearly intentional and nicely maintained. Of particular note are the dark purple leaves of cimicifuga, which set up beautifully against the green of mosses, ferns, and creeping thyme, which cascade from the stepped beds. A field of meadow grasses, buttercups, and lupine lead the eye from this rock garden down the hill to 180 degree water-views; Belfast Harbor to Islesboro and down Penobscot Bay.

“Living right on the ocean is as harsh as living on a mountain or in the desert,” Sears points out. “The plants here are hearty and handle salt spray, wind, cold, and heat.”

Hens and chicks and other succulents roost happily along the patio. Rugosa roses and many varieties of hosta line the stone path, which returns to the Japanese-inspired garden surrounding the entrance to the Sears' home. The soft lapping of water at the shore, calling birds, and a bell buoy in the channel echo the meditative quality of this garden, which is anchored by weeping hemlock, “yak” rhododendrons, Japanese maple, and stone outcroppings. Woodland creepers such as sweet woodruff, pachysandra, and heuchera create a soft understory below more amazing pines.

Directions to the Sears Garden, 9 Airmail Lane, East Belfast: High Street North to Route 1. Continue North to East Belfast. Look for mailboxes high up on a pole on right (Airmail Lane). Turn right and continue bearing right to a gray house with white trim. Park in oval driveway.

The next Belfast Garden Club Open Garden Day will be Friday, June 22 at the Pierce/Tracey Garden, 8 Northport Avenue, Belfast. Historic Orlando Frost House (1905), formal and informal garden beds featuring roses, poppies, foxgloves, hollyhocks and lilies and an art studio.

For seven consecutive years, Belfast Garden Club has presented Open Garden Days, a garden tour series, this year will featuring 13 gardens in the Belfast area. From backyard experimental plantings and ornate Master Gardens, to plant nurseries and vegetable plots visitors can expect to see brilliant blooms, unique and rare plants, sculpture, exquisite views and even an outdoor pizza oven. One garden will be open to the public each Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., through August 24 plus the first Friday of September and October. 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 2012 Open Garden Days benefit the Club’s civic beautification projects.

For more information about Belfast Garden Club’s Open Garden Days call Diane Allmayer-Beck at 338-3105, email, or visit


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