A thick layer of shifting ice rubbed the outer layer of bark off a number of trees in the Wild Gardens of Acadia this past winter. ISLANDER PHOTO BY DICK BROOM

Wild Gardens recovering from ice damage



ACADIA NAT’L PARK — The unusual cycle of heavy rains and hard freezes this past winter, which created a frozen flood in the Great Meadow area, did only minor damage to the Nature Center and other buildings at Sieur de Monts Spring but took a toll on the Wild Gardens of Acadia.

“We reacted pretty quickly, so the buildings were heated,” said Keith Johnston, the park’s chief of facilities maintenance. “So, even though they were completely entombed in ice, there was no water left on the inside after two days.

“But in the Wild Gardens, the ice sheared off a lot of plants and wrecked the new fencing and gate system.”

A Friends of Acadia volunteer group maintains the Wild Gardens.

Stephanie Clement, FOA’s conservation director, said Helen Koch, one of the group’s co-chairs, assessed the impact of the thick, shifting ice that covered the gardens.

“She found that we lost 105 shrubs; the ones that were hit hardest were the high-bush blueberries and winterberry,” Clement said. “There also was the loss of some small trees that were snapped off.”

She said Koch and volunteer co-chair Anne Kozak are working to replace the trees and shrubs that were destroyed.

“We have sent out a fundraising letter to try to help both with acquiring plants and repairing the damage to the deer fence,” Clement said. “Ice on the netting around the back of the fence caused it to buckle; it sort of slumped to the ground. And all of the metal poles that braced the fence where there were turns were bent.”

She said one of the garden’s gates was ripped from its hinges by the shifting ice.

“Right now, it’s being held together by bungee cord at night because you can’t latch it.”

Now, with plants leafed out and flowers blooming, you probably wouldn’t know anything was missing unless you were intimately familiar with the gardens. But there are subtle signs of the power of the foot-thick ice: The outer layer of bark was rubbed off trees near their base as the ice that encased them rose and fell.

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. dbroom@mdislander.com