Eddie Woodin, Scarborough resident, invites the public to see his chemical-free garden every year in the hopes of encouraging others to plant without chemicals themselves. This year’s tour is Aug. 1 at 34 Clearwater Drive, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Catherine Bart/Leader

SCARBOROUGH — Each year, Eddie Woodin, a Scarborough resident on 34 Clearwater Drive, invites the public to walk through his chemical-free garden, a massive habitat that is packed with perennial flowers, trees, insects, and birds.

This year’s free tour is Aug. 1. The tours will go out in small batches, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and everyone attending is asked to bring a mask, Woodin said. The groups will be outdoors and everyone will have space to stand apart.

Woodin, a Scarborough resident, said that 5,000 people have been on the property over the years. His tours offer a look into the natural beauty and serenity that tending a garden can provide.

“I want to encourage people to enjoy nature and hopefully, plant something on their own,” Woodin said.

Each corner of Woodin’s suburban property has something to see, hosting over 250 species of trees and perennial flowers, he said. The gardens have propagated over 60 monarchs and is home to over 100 species of bees, as well as a multitude of other insects.

Eddie Woodin’s suburban garden on 34 Clearwater Drive in Scarborough has attracted dozens of monarch butterflies over the years. Woodin said that he believes the swamp milkweed is more effective than common milkweed. Catherine Bart/Leader

 

A monarch butterfly landing on swamp milkweed. Catherine Bar/Leader

“I have a handout sheet with everything listed on the property,” Woodin said. “People can see for themselves.”

With gyms being closed down, Woodin has been expanding his garden in order to get more exercise, he said. Another benefit to gardening, especially in the pandemic, is that almost anyone can do it at home.

“I’m going forward with the tours because we’ve all been locked down, and nature’s great,” he said. “People being locked down have turned to gardening and feeding. A lot of suppliers have doubled and tripled business. I can’t buy suet for birds. I now have to buy on the internet because you can’t find it at a tractor supplier. The great news is that people are interested.”

When Woodin purchased the property over 20 years ago, he said that the land was just a sandpit. His work over the years has created habitats.

“I turned the corner four years ago with monarchs,” he said. “I bought some swamp milkweed, and was like, Jeez, what is this? To my amazement it was like a magnet to the monarchs. They go the entire property seeking out the swamp milkweed. The reason I mention that is that the East Coast is increasing in monarchs and I’m convinced that it’s the number of people who are planting gardens.”

Nature is a place to heal, he said.

“Getting outdoors is the important thing, even now,” Woodin said. “They say even if you just sit inside and look out a window, towards greenery, how relaxing it is, your mind switches from the challenges of the day and it’s relaxing.”

Eddie Woodin’s dogs roaming the garden. Catherine Bart/Leader

For people just getting into the hobby, Woodin said that he usually recommends perennial plants.

“The most rewarding thing is the perennial,” he said. “I would just go to Broadway Gardens and just walk around and try to learn and understand the beauty and try to understand what’s the most productive. I go out at night with a flashlight and it’s unbelievable. The more you learn, the more you’re making good choices for nature.”

Maintaining a chemical-free environment is one good choice Woodin has made, he said. His garden only uses water and natural fertilizer, which keeps the insects, and the birds that eat them, around.

“In 2009, I was sitting out early evening and we had a number of brown bats we didn’t see, that fed on mosquitoes, and I was starting to think, ‘Who’s spraying pesticides?'” he said. “And I became pretty suspicious, and I had a nest of tree swallows that was abandoned because there was no food. So I began the anti-herbicide movement. By 2011, the town passed a policy or ordinance eliminating pesticides. We used that as a trumpet to the public.”

Woodin is a member of the Citizens for a Green Scarborough, which has partnered with other communities and has even testified in Augusta, he said. The group has partnered with the Friends of Casco Bay.

People who visit Woodin’s garden will see the difference of an all-natural garden, he said.

“I’m convinced the pesticides kill the insects the birds eat, so my property is 100 percent water,” he said. “There’s nothing but cow manure and water. Judge for yourself. If you like how this looks, you can do this too.”

Eddie Woodin said that one of the most fun parts of planting is playing with colors. Catherine Bart/Leader

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