November 4, 2012

Maine Gardener: New horticulture director keeping his hands dirty at Coastal Maine


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Rodney Eason arrived in October at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay.

Courtesy photo

"It is great how the garden has grown thus far and has continued to grow organically," Eason said. ""People have realized that it doesn't have to be a formal garden inspired by classical, European designs."

Another major duty, and one that Eason is looking forward to, is to help create the next phase of the master plan for the gardens.

All the gardens and buildings that were planned before the garden's grand opening in 2007 have been completed, and the board and staff now have to decide what to do next.

Eason said the climate of Longwood and Coastal Maine are similar -- Longwood is a Zone 7, while Coastal Maine is Zone 6a -- so there will not be much of an adjustment.

But Eason grew up in North Carolina, and before he went to Longwood Gardens, he worked for Plant Delights Nursery, which was owned by Tony Avent, a colorful, hard-working plantsman and plant collector.

Eason said he is pretty much a generalist, having worked with annuals, perennials and woodies in his career, and that he goes through phases where he uses a lot of one plant over a period of time. But he wants to learn more about using magnolias, hydrangeas and viburnums in the gardens.

"The staff at Longwood kidded me about trying to find out which crape myrtle would survive in that climate," he said. "I guarantee I won't be using any crape myrtle here."

Eason and his wife, a landscape architect and artist, have four children, and are living in East Boothbay.

Tom Atwell has been writing the Maine Gardener column since 2004. He is a freelance writer gardening in Cape Elizabeth and can be contacted at 767-2297 or at:


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