A visit to the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden is guaranteed to be a visit like none other! I’ve had the pleasure of visiting a number of gardens across the US and this one has to be in my top 3 favorites without a doubt.
The trails to each section of the garden were fantastic! The scenery was so amazing that even the numerous mosquitos couldn’t lessen the joy as I meandered along, excited to see what would appear next on the journey.
Deep in the woods of Coastal Maine Botanical Garden, five giant trolls stand guard over the forest. These trolls are not your typical fairytale creatures. They are made of recycled materials and are designed to teach visitors about the importance of sustainability and environmental protection.
As you meander through the vibrant blooms and tranquil ponds, you might find yourself learning more about the different parts of a tree and the value they bring to the environment along with how easy it is to damage nature if we are careless in our treatment of it. Let’s embark on a journey of discovery as we delve into the magical allure of these charming creatures and uncover the secrets they hold in this enchanting corner of the world.
The trolls are named Roskva, Birk, Gro, Søren, and Lilja. Each troll represents a different aspect of the forest, and they all have their own unique personality. They are the creation of internationally renowned artist Thomas Dambo and each was created using upcycled materials sourced from around the state.
Roskva was the first of the Guardians of the Seeds to be added to the collection, in 2017. It was fitting that she was the first troll I encountered and I think it was love at first sight! Seeing the giant troll was, for me, like seeing the snowfall in Sequoia National Park. I felt a sense of magic and wonder along with a burst of curiosity to find out more about the amazing creations.
Each troll has something to teach visitors. Roskva teaches about the importance of the trunk. The trunk is the main support structure of the tree. It transports water and nutrients from the roots to the leaves, and it also provides a home for many insects and animals.
The giant trolls are a popular tourist attraction in the garden. And “giant” is an understatement. Roskva is 30 feet tall and 25 feet wide! She is made of recycled wood from shipping pallets which helps to reduce waste. She is always willing to help others.
In addition to teaching visitors about the importance of trees, the Guardians of the Seeds trolls also promote sustainability and environmental awareness. They are a reminder that we all have a role to play in protecting our natural resources.
After experiencing the awe in seeing my first troll I was ready to hit the 3-mile trail and find the remaining four!
Next, I encountered Lilja, the youngest of the Guardians of the Seeds. She was added to the collection in 2022 and represents the scent of the flowers of the tree. She teaches visitors about the importance of flowers. Flowers attract pollinators, which help to spread pollen from one flower to another. This is essential for the reproduction of plants.
Birk was added to the Guardians of the Seeds in 2019. He was the last of the five trolls to be created, and he represents the trunk of the tree. He is made of recycled wood from a local lumber yard, and he has a large, sturdy body. Birk is 25 feet tall and 20 feet wide.
Birk teaches visitors about the importance of roots. Roots anchor trees to the ground and help them to absorb water and nutrients. Without roots, trees would not be able to survive. Additionally, the roots work together with the other trees, forming a sort of underground community, signaling to each other who needs food or who is in trouble from pests or diseases.
“Birk is the wisest and most mysterious of the trolls. He hides in the shadows and listens to the whispers of the soil.”
Soren, the fifth and final troll of the Guardians of the Seeds, was added to the collection in 2022. I immediately loved the crazy hair and the playful pose he struck in the forest.
Soren is 15 feet tall and 10 feet wide. He represents the branches of the tree and is made of recycled wood from branches and twigs. He has a long, winding body and is the most curious of the trolls. He teaches visitors how the branches help to distribute the weight of the leaves and fruit, and they also provide a place for birds and other animals to build their nests.
“Soren is a very curious troll, his head is always turning and twisting, searching for places ever higher.”
Gro was tucked away near the end of the 3-mile woodland hike and was totally worth the trek! She is 20 feet tall and 15 feet wide.
Gro teaches us about the leaves of the tree and how they feed on sunlight and rain to grow and then feed the forest life.
Perched upon the rock in a meditative pose, she seems to be communing with nature. Rather fitting I thought!
“Gro is the wanderer. Every fall she disappears, but the trolls are not worried because every spring she returns to the forest.”
It should be noted that these trolls are part of an ongoing body of work by Danish artist Thomas Dambo and there are 100 of them scattered around the world. I now have a new mission in life: see all the trolls! I love the message of awareness of nature that accompanies the seed guardians in Maine and can’t wait to continue the exploration!
And, just in case you were wondering, I managed to capture “a few” flower images during my troll hunt at the garden! I’ll have another blog post soon highlighting them soon but here are a few to give you a taste of the beauty I found in the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden.
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