A garden of wonders in Wiscasset

If you go to Carriage House Gardens, plan to stay a while
Posted:  Tuesday, July 19, 2016 - 8:45am

Lucia Droby lives in a veritable garden of wonders. Her home, on Pleasant Street in Wiscasset, looks out over a courtyard full of delightful garden accessories, some old, some new, a variety of ground covers and new plantings, and a series of lime green garden arches.

Living in the Boston area, Droby and her husband Rick Burns had spent summers and holidays in Waldoboro for 25 years prior to moving to Wiscasset. When they bought the 1790 house and 1850s carriage house in 2011, she said that the grounds, now a gardener's dream, consisted of a not-so-pretty lawn with a few Norway maple trees scattered about. “We spent the summer of 2012 sitting on the porch looking at the lawn, and planning,” Droby said.

The outcome: Carriage House Gardens.

Droby said one of the first ideas for the layout and design of their grounds was a straight path from the street to the carriage house. Her reason? “So that should the carriage ever return it has a way to get to the carriage house.”

In 2013, they began excavating.

A parking area was installed, then they began replacing the lawn with gardens.

After using the carriage house as storage space for lawn mowers and hoses for two years, Droby, who loves art, garden ornaments, antiques, and other treasures, decided it deserved better. She and her husband converted it into a shop, inspired by gardens and nature. 

Droby has an extensive background in landscaping — and a lot of other things. When you start talking to her, you quickly become aware that she's well versed in pretty much everything involving plants, gardens, landscaping, antiques, historic homes, art and photo journalism.

Suffice it to say, if you go to Carriage House Gardens you won't be bored, and you may find yourself having unwittingly killed a couple pleasant hours. She's as interesting and fun to talk to as the menagerie of unusual, whimsical, artful nature and garden-inspired items in her shop.

After graduating from the University of Rhode Island with a degree in journalism, Droby worked for an underground newspaper in Atlanta, Georgia, the Great Speckled Bird. Then she came back to New England, got a degree in film studies, and worked for a Boston TV station in a videographer/editing position.

In 1984, the Drobys started a family. They adopted four siblings, aged 2, 4, 5 and 6. For obvious reasons, she became a stay-at-home mom.

Droby began taking courses in landscape design at Radcliffe College, graduating after nine years of two courses a year. She directed a non-profit landscape design business for 18 years in the Boston area.

When not tending her shop and gardens, Droby isn't sitting around twiddling her thumbs. In 2012, she started planning the Wiscasset Art Walk, and she volunteers with the Wiscasset Chamber of Commerce on a regular basis.

Some of the items you'll find at Carriage House Gardens are one-of-a-kind pieces for the garden by a ceramic artist in Rhode Island, John Fazzino; porch and patio furniture, vases and pots, and paintings by Alna artist Kate Nordstrom. There are some great, colorful garden gloves that Droby said will last for years, and her “favorite 100 percent beeswax candles.”

Droby is in the process of building a ‘menagerie’ collection that includes a pair of large Foo Lions, a family of “sweet little hand-carved wooden owls,” a beaded horse, a full-sized goat and turkey made from recycled metals, and a rocking piggy (with an apple in its mouth) carved in wood. There's a collection of picnic wares including Fleebag coolers, wicker picnic baskets, and African market baskets.  

As you walk up the carriage path, surrounded by plants, flowers and garden accessories, you'll see the large lime green iron arches that were installed earlier this summer. They were custom made by Edgecomb iron artisan Peter Brown. They make such a statement all by themselves, Droby is having a hard time deciding whether to plant climbing vines or other plants to twist themselves around them, or just leave them alone.

Droby used to have vegetable gardens, but now she's more interested in gardens for the eye.

She's deliberately not creating cottage garden-type plantings with lots of familiar and ornamental perennials. “People love these gardens and know what they look like. I’m trying to identify really, really excellent performers and using lots of them, limiting the plant palette.

“My landscape goal is to create a three-dimensional experience when you walk into the garden, rather than focus on the individual plants themselves.

'I'm creating an environment where people will come to shop, but they'll also be drawn to the garden and the courtyard area. I want the garden to be part of the shop experience. The wonder of having your own shop, of course, is to be the curator of goods that you love and want to share with others.”

Visit Carriage House Gardens’ Facebook page and website