A Maine cottage garden…

Hello readers! I am going to switch it up a bit for you. Rather than strictly follow the day by day ramblings of the Garden Bloggers Fling I have decided to mix the public and private garden spaces we have toured just to keep you guessing at what you will see next!

Vacations in Maine were the inspiration for the Bethesda, Maryland home and garden of landscape designer Debbie Friedman. Owner of Bethesda Garden Designs, Debbie has mixed natural elements with a fairly controlled palette in her vision of a quintessential but understated Maine cottage garden. She also inspired us with her ability to tackle garden challenges with innovative solutions–her garden is approachable, achievable and a spot I found to be serenely welcoming.


Debbie greets us with open arms–what a great start to our day!


Debbie has created this mini meadow which fills the area between two walkways leading to her home. She explains that the area has an ever present issue with a very invasive grassy weed species which she has fought for years. Her solution was to fill the area around the small flagstone patio with a meadow of Liriope spicata whose form is very similar to the grassy weed. She can spot the interlopers and remove them easily enough but to most viewers the grassy leaves all look the same. The low Liriope is bordered by taller Pennisetum alopecuroides giving the area a feeling of enclosure. Smaller feather grass (Stipa) provides a little step down to the borders as it winds toward the front porch.


Have a closer look at this wooden log bench providing not only a place to rest but a statement of the importance of natural elements has for Debbie in her garden. The vignette is just enough.


This bold bed beneath the gently curved window is chock full of perennials providing food and shelter for birds and other wildlife. The golden blooms of Rudbeckia maxima, also called the great or giant coneflower, were awash with goldfinches as we arrived–we just couldn’t get off the bus fast enough to photograph them. Verbena bonariensis, whose purple tipped flower heads you see here is another sun and pollinator loving plant so useful for that pop of color dancing in and around its companions.


Carefully curated artistic objects peek out of foliage throughout the garden.

A tall, slender metal and twig structure echoes the form of the Liquidambar styraciflua ‘Slender Silhouette’ to its right. On the left you can see a glimpse of one of several mature Cryptomeria on Debbie’s neighbor’s property. You can never go wrong with a ‘borrowed view’ when it so nicely complements your own. Debbie uses logs again–this time setting the slices in to serve as her walkway to the back garden.


This long view provides a bit of perspective as to the garden’s size. This garden has two homes behind it but Debbie’s use throughout of nicely layered screening evergreen shrubs and conifers provides a sense of privacy and calm right in the middle of a busy neighborhood.


An amazing retreat awaits under the leafy canopy! Wood slices offer a pathway throughout the ostrich fern. Bamboo all ready existing on the property line provides a backdrop for this shade drenched area. Debbie shares that she keeps it pretty well under control by stomping on the newly emerging shoots each spring. You go, girl!


In the foreground are Debbie’s favorite cultivar of Japanese forest grass–Hakonechloa  macra ‘All Gold’–which almost seems to glow in the shade. Log hollow slices set on their side reinforce the use of natural materials as both functional pieces and art

Two levels of patio seating areas grace the rear of Debbie’s home. They offer wonderful long range views of the garden and have architectural and material interest all of their own.


More than one gardener in my group is headed right to their local patio store for orange outdoor furniture! I loved the simplicity of the lower deck water feature and the use of industrial materials as a counterpoint to all the leafy green. The tall red blooms are Monarda  (I think ‘Jacob Cline’).


Take note of the dappled willow, Salix integra behind the water feature. Debbie used the supple new whips from this plant to weave through these interesting metal framed balls which reside just at the edge of her lawn.


This creative garden designer and her charming garden were the perfect start to our first day of touring Capitol region private gardens. I think we all boarded our buses appreciative of her generosity in sharing her garden with us and a little in awe of many of the creative ways she used everyday, natural materials.

One thought on “A Maine cottage garden…

  1. When I read the description of this garden feared it would be overly rustic; I was pleasantly surprised by the restraint and the simplicity of the forest-y elements in the garden. It was a serene garden, quite unlike the chaos I have in my own .


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s