Two Island Gardens: Asticou Azalea Garden and Thuya Garden, Asticou Terraces & Thuya Lodge

by Letitia S. Baldwin

asticou azalea garden and thuya garden

In 2008 the Land & Garden Preserve published "Two Island Gardens: The Work of Charles K. Savage" written by Letitia Baldwin. The edition is a two-volume, slip-cased set of the history of the Asticou Azalea Garden and nearby Thuya Garden, which celebrates the 50th anniversary of these gardens in Northeast Harbor on Mount Desert Island, Maine. It is offered as a slip-cased set for a limited time. The books are also available for purchase separately.


Formerly called the Island Foundation, the Land and Garden Preserve is a non-profit organization with a variety of programs and properties on Mount Desert Island. The organization owns and oversees the operation of gardens and lands that are accessible to the public throughout the year. Its mission is to preserve the aesthetic and spiritual heritage of a number of horticultural and natural landscapes on the Island.


Like many visitors to the Thuya and Asticou Azalea gardens, Letitia S. Baldwin discovered Charles K. Savage's gardens by chance and has drawn inspiration from them for her own gardens ever since moving to coastal Maine to live year-round in 1988. Up until then, she had spent summers since childhood on Little Cranberry Island where she now lives with her husband and twin daughters in the Downeast town of Gouldsboro.


Before making Maine her permanent home, Baldwin worked for seven years as a journalist in Mexico City, broadcasting for CBS Radio News and reporting for Time magazine and other media. After moving to Maine, she continued her journalism career working as a reporter for The Bar Harbor Times and The Bangor Daily News. She served as the arts/feature editor for eight years at The Bangor Daily News. Over the years, she has contributed stories to Maine Public Radio and Down East, Coastal Living and Maine Boats Homes & Harbors magazines. She is a frequent contributor to The Boston Globe. She is currently the Arts/Special Sections Editor at The Ellsworth American.


Charles K. Savage (1903-1979), a life-long resident of Northeast Harbor and owner of the Asticou Inn, is best known for the design and development of the Asticou Azalea Garden and the Thuya Garden. His love for plants and botanical specimens was influenced by his parents' passion for flowers and gardens. When famed landscape architect, Beatrix Farrand, announced that she would dismantle her collection of plants at Reef Point in Bar Harbor, Savage conceived a project to rescue them. With the assistance of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who funded the project, the azaleas and rhododendrons from the Farrand collection were moved to an alder swamp across from the Inn. Savage completed the Japanese-style Asticou Azalea Garden within a year. The nearby Thuya Garden was also created using Farrand plants on property and a lodge given by Joseph Henry Curtis. In a tranquil setting at the end of this garden stands a memorial plaque to Charles K. Savage. Every year thousands of visitors enjoy walking through both gardens. Now, they will be able to enjoy the story behind his magnificent achievement.


Price: $30 + shipping*

The slipcover, pictured above, protects the covers of the two individual books, pictured below.

asticou azalea book
thuya book

* Please note: Shipping costs are based on the quantity of books ordered. For those ordering more than 20 books or book sets, please contact us directly to get an accurate shipping cost: (207) 276-3727.