Flowers grown for Celia Thaxter’s island garden relocated

Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Sign shwoing the layout of Celia Thaxter's garden.

In summers past, a visit to Appledore Island often included a tour of the gardens designed by the poet Celia Thaxter. While the original garden, along with her cottage, was lost to fire in 1914, the Shoals Marine Lab on Appledore has since reconstructed the garden and continues to maintain it, each year adding special flowers grown from seed.

Jenn Seavey at Prescott Park

Jennifer Seavey gives a socially distanced tour of Celia Thaxter’s garden on a recent visit to its temporary summer home in Prescott Park.

This year, when COVID-19 prevented trips to the island, Jennifer Seavey, Shoals Marine Laboratory executive director, searched for a temporary spot to plant the special flowers grown by Rolling Green Nursery in Greenland, New Hampshire. Earlier this month, they were planted among the garden beds in Portsmouth's Prescott Park. A sign with a copy of the original plot designed by Thaxter appears nearby.

Some of Thaxter’s original plants are still in the Appledore garden: the snowdrops, the hops vine, and day lilies. Six-foot tall hollyhocks spill down to the water's edge, and brilliant red poppies are planted each year so that the garden echoes the famous paintings of impressionist Childe Hassam.

The Shoals Lab offers passage to the island and a tour of the garden. Read more about the tour here and plan a visit for summer of 2021.