Thursday, August 14, 2014

Catching Up

"Fairest of the months!
 Ripe summer's queen
 The hey-day of the year
 With robes that gleam with sunny sheen
 Sweet August doth appear."
 ~ R. Combe Miller

Well, hello! It's been a while. How did we get to mid August so quickly? Tom and I have been dividing our summer between DC and Castine, Maine. If you spot a silver mini-van with DC tags crammed with dogs, furniture and stuff puttering along I-95, that would be us! Wave hi, okay?

There's much to catchup on, so let's start with our garden in DC.
This August has been cooler than normal, and it feels marvelous. The plants love it, too. The first photo from a few weeks ago shows the row of Russian sage along the pergola. I shared it on INSTAGRAM and many of you "liked" it - thank you!!

A couple weeks later, the Limelight hydrangeas to the right of the garden pavilion burst into bloom. Next to the hydrangeas is Blue Fortune agastache with its lavender-blue flowers. Both long bloomers are showstoppers of the August garden. 
The white border really shined this season. With more of a cottage garden spirit, the planting here is less formal. There is still structure, such as the evergreen shrubs to anchor the perennials, but the overall appearance is a bit softer. Surrounding the granite sundial are Minnie Pearl phloxes - this is their second flush of flowers. Also in bloom are veronicas (below) and daisies.
Not much new inside except for a few tweaks and additions of books and creamware. I was invited by Kim at Savvy Southern Style to chat about my favorite room - did you see my guest post on our library? Thanks so much, Kim!
In Castine, the exterior of our grey house has yet to be painted as the short summer is, as you can imagine, the busiest season for local painters. While I love grey, I plan to perk up our historic home with crisp white paint, graphic black shutters and sunny yellow doors. So that's the exterior color scheme! 

As for the gardens, we've planted 18 Limelight hydrangeas, five white spruces and many native cinnamon ferns. The front perennial beds need simplifying and weeding. I'm thinking of a white, pale-yellow and green garden - simple, cheerful, summery!

Here is a sneak peek of the dining room with botanical prints of ferns inspired by the local flora. 
We continue to explore beautiful Maine, and took a "daycation" up to Lubec and Eastport. Lubec was just delightful - an unspoiled Downeast coastal gem. Being the easternmost town in the U.S., you can enjoy the sunrise before the rest of the country. Also the fresh, salty air!
Don't miss The McCurdy Smokehouse Museum, the last traditional smoked-herring facility that closed in 1991. Next door, there is a charming gallery featuring the works of local artists.
Across the Lubec Narrows, enjoy views of the Mulholland Point Lighthouse on Campobello Island, Canada. If you are a lighthouse enthusiast, this is the region for you. There are five around Lubec and another one in Calais.
The harbor and historic cottages. New Brunswick, Canada can be seen from Lubec. Greetings to my Canadian friends and readers :)
Speaking of lighthouses, the boldly striped red-and-white West Quoddy Head Light is stunning against the blue sea. I hear it is quite the Maine experience on a misty, foggy day with the sound of the foghorn. 
The most eastern point in the U.S. - quite the setting with the rocky cliffs, big tides and gusty winds!
After Lubec, we made our way to Eastport, a small city with lots of galleries, cafes and antique shops. We had a wonderful time chatting with the very friendly locals.
BTW, the Port of Eastport is the deepest natural seaport in the continental U.S. It was low tide when we visited.

Hope you've enjoyed seeing more of Maine!
Cheers,
Loi

Friday, July 18, 2014

Welcome to Castine, Maine!

Are we there, yet? Almost! Yes, the road to Castine is long and winding, but this coastal gem is worth the drive, a visit and certainly an extended stay.

What makes Castine so special? Its rich 400-year-old history? Perhaps its idyllic peninsula setting situated on one of New England's deepest harbors? The many lovely period homes laid out graciously amongst towering elm trees? Or, surely, the multi-generations of families that call Castine home must mean this small town is special?

I'd say all of the above, which is why Tom and I decided to buy a home here. We had considered other towns in Maine but ultimately decided they were either too touristy or sleepy, and lacked the sense of community that Castine possesses. 

Please let me tour you around our beautiful town. BTW, this post is almost as lengthy as Castine's history, so grab a cup of coffee and enjoy these photos from our most recent stay. Click on photo for an enlarged view.
Founded in the early 17th century, Castine is one of New England's oldest towns. Its strategic location at the mouth of the Penobscot River meant it was fought over and occupied by the French, Dutch and English. Throughout Castine, charming signs and markers indicate sites of significance.
Once a bustling merchant and ship-building town, many handsome Federal and Greek Revival style homes still grace its streets.  
Not all the houses are painted white. This stately Federal is glorious in yellow. 
A red cape and pink cottage.
There is a saying in Castine: Under The Elms And By The Sea! Many elm trees still line and shade our streets - they are cherished as well as fiercely protected!
The town is blessed with four celebrated churches.

ABOVE: Built in 1790 and situated on the Town Common is The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Castine, the oldest meeting house of eastern Maine. 

BELOW: Trinitarian Congregational Parish of Castine, UCC is located on Main Street. The handsome steeple stands proudly among Main Street's historic homes. 
The Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady of Holy Hope is located on Perkins Street. Its pristine waterfront setting is so serene.
Trinity Episcopal Church is also located on Perkins Street. This striking stone building has such a presence.
Let's head over to the Town Common where you'll find Maine's oldest municipal library, Witherle Memorial Library (below).
On Thursday mornings during the summer, there is a friendly farmer's market with organic produce, baked goods, fresh flowers, local crafts and more. Who can resist such a face? Pure sunshine!
There are many public parks and sites to enjoy, such as Wadsworth Cove Beach.
Don't miss Dyce Head Lighthouse (Ca. 1828) tucked at the end of Battle Avenue.
A peek at the Golf Club's Clubhouse. 
Next, a stroll to the town center to check out the oldest U.S. post office in continuous operation (above).
Two lovely historic inns right in the heart of town. 
ABOVE: The Castine Inn
BELOW: The Pentagoet Inn
 Nearby is The Manor Inn on Battle Avenue.
Shops and businesses along Main Street.
Off of Main is Perkins Street, where many of the historic houses have enviable waterfront locations. BTW, the wonderful Wilson Museum is perched on Perkins. When I visited, they were having a demonstration and serving old-fashioned donuts - YUM! Thank you, young ladies!!
A charming boathouse!
Speaking of water, Doug and Karen Koos treated us to a boat cruise around the harbor. Castine is even more magical from the sea! Many thanks to the Koos! 

If you are a frequent reader of this blog, you'll remember that Karen Koos is a realtor, and she helped us find our home in Castine. She has been wonderful in every way - from the many showings to helping us settle into town. Check out Karen and her team's listings at Saltmeadow Properties - they are the authority on Castine real estate.
We were joined by Missy and Jonathan (Tom's niece and nephew-in-law). It was their first anniversary, and we're honored they spent it with us in Castine!
On July Fourth, celebrations started early in the morning with a kid's parade. Families from all over the Peninsula joined in the festivities.
Though the fireworks were postponed to a week later (due to weather), the town remained energized.
And I have to say: Castine sure knows how to put on a show! Just spectacular!!
Hope to see you soon in Castine!
Cheers,
Loi
PS - For more information, please visit Castine Historical Society and Castine's official site.