ABOVE Geraniums, lupines, peonies, poppies, and a variegated willow bloom along the Perennial Path, one of six garden “rooms” on Linda Faatz’s 30-acre Gorham property.
TEXT BY AURELIA C. SCOTT
PHOTOGRAPHED BY KELSEY KOBIK
For 70 years, the expansive perennial gardens that surround Linda Faatz’s Gorham farmhouse have lent their beauty to weddings and gardening workshops, and provided a haven for plant lovers. The brainchild of her father, Audway Treworgy, an entrepreneur and founder of an egg wholesale business, the property has been maintained and enhanced by Faatz since 2002. “My father was the designer. I am the refiner,” she says.
Treworgy and his wife, Phyllis, bought their home and 30 acres of fields in 1941. Inspired by his friend Bernard McLaughlin’s renowned perennial gardens in South Paris, Treworgy began planting trees and shrubs. “He started right outside the back door, then moved into the nearest field, then the one beyond that,” recalls Faatz. “He was working full-time, so each new area took a couple of years to develop.” Ultimately, five acres of garden “rooms” flowed from one to the next.
Today, the Reception Lawn, surrounded by forsythias, hostas, and hydrangeas, leads to the Play Lawn starring a henhouse Faatz transformed into a playhouse after the birth of her first grandchild in 2005. Bedecked with climbing hydrangeas, it’s set among damask roses, dogwoods, fiddlehead ferns, lilacs, and a fragrant, white-flowered, double mock orange shrub — the garden’s first plant. The nearby white birches originated as volunteer seedlings that Faatz transplanted from the front of the house. Just beyond, weeping Louisa crabapples mark the entrance to the Perennial Path, with its rainbow of daylilies, liatris, lupines, peonies, phlox, poppies, variegated willows, and yarrows.
ABOVE 1) Faatz takes a moment to enjoy a few of the many peonies that ring the Courtyard Garden. 2) Maidenhair ferns grow well in the damp, shady Woodland Garden. 3) A poppy found along the Perennial Path reveals its velvety anthers and crown. 4) A hens and chicks succulent is overgrown, but beautiful, in a container made from an old stove part.
The circular sweep of lawn in the Courtyard features a border of clematis, daylilies, hostas, and peonies (the property flaunts more than 100 varieties), while the Secret Garden is ringed with rhododendrons. Treworgy planted the hemlocks, junipers, May apples, and spruces in the Woodland Garden as seedlings, and relished the thought of future generations seeing them reach maturity. Winding throughout are walls built with stone from Phyllis’s hometown of Parsonsfield. “This was way back, when you could knock on people’s doors and ask to take their tumbledown old walls off their hands,” Faatz explains with a laugh.
The garden educator and retired kindergarten teacher says she spends “as much time pondering as schlepping plants around.” To avoid becoming overwhelmed, she and her garden helper and friend, Norene Lanoie, focus on one area at a time, refining it to their liking before moving on. Spots languishing from an overabundance of sun or shade, or lack of nutrients in the soil, receive their attention first. “Nature has a way of showing you what should go where,” Faatz says.
An organic gardener, she welcomes clover and tolerates other weeds on the lawns: “Hey, they’re green!” Of deadheading, she says, “As I get older, I’m trying to appreciate spent blooms.” Garden weeds are dumped on a huge compost pile spiked with manure from a neighboring horse farm. She top-dresses the hungriest perennials with the compost and extra shovelfuls of pure, nitrogen-rich horse manure that’s “basically a pile of happy worms.”
When not working in the garden, Faatz continues to welcome individuals and small groups for visits, and looks forward to hosting weddings again post-pandemic. “When people come here, they feel the peace and tranquility,” she says. “I’ve always been happy to share the garden, but in these anxious days, I think it’s especially important. Cares float away in a garden.”