In the Gulf of Maine, where sky meets sea, lie the Isles of Shoals, haunted with graves of Spanish sailors and tales of pirate gold. The islands have names that give them shape — Smutty Nose, Duck, Hog, and White (an acre of stone topped at the pinnacle with light). Poet Celia Laighton Thaxter’s life on Appledore Island inspired her writing and her lifelong connection to the island’s terrain. Her flower garden, celebrated in her book An Island Garden, drew visitors to the island until a fire destroyed the property. A century after she started her garden, John Kingsbury of Cornell University and a team of volunteers found the remnants of her sanctuary and re-created her summer garden, a floral oasis in the rough, wind-whipped terrain.
Celia Thaxter’s century-old garden on Appledore Island is gaining new life through the dedication of volunteers and the interest of visitors. The summer tours are almost always sold out and the education and family programs at the Shoals Marine Laboratory are popular.