Orono woman’s gardening leads to published book, feature in Maine magazine

After several mounds of dirt and a lot of trial and error, Lisa Colburn’s garden now resembles what some might consider a hidden oasis.
Published: Aug. 12, 2022 at 4:38 PM EDT
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ORONO, Maine (WABI) - When Lisa Colburn moved to Orono about 20 years ago, her yard consisted of grass, an invasive Crimson King Maple, and a few shrubs.

She says she immediately got to work pulling them out, digging and planting new things.

“My husband said, ‘are you sure you know what you’re doing?’ I said ‘yes, get out of my way and let me do this,’ and I just started planting everything that you see now,” Colburn said.

After several mounds of dirt and a lot of trial and error, Colburn’s garden now resembles what some might consider a hidden oasis.

“Part of it was an effort to make it appear that my house was just a little bit farther away from the road and it created a sense of privacy and coziness, if you will,” Colburn said.

Growing up in Northern Maine, Colburn says gardening ran in her family.

When she moved to the Bangor area to go back to college, she picked it up again and never looked back.

“I spent most of my life gardening in zone three, and then I moved to this area zone five and that created some difficulties because I felt I had mastered gardening in northern Maine. And when I moved to the Bangor area, it was like I had moved to the tropics of Maine. So, it just opened up the whole plant palette,” Colburn said.

Throughout Colburn’s gardens you can find everything from tropical plants and succulents to ripe tomatoes and ears of corn.

She’s published a book with stories and advice from Maine gardeners and travels around speaking to garden clubs sharing her expertise.

This month she was even featured in Down East Magazine.

“I think being in my garden is my happy place. I’m maybe an introvert or a loner at heart. And being out here and just weeding can be a comforting activity, satisfying that you’re embellishing your yard, and it’s just a feeling of solitude and contentment,” Colburn said.

Colburn says there is more to gardening than just learning how to grow plants.

She says she enjoys the ornamental side of things as well.

“In my garden, you notice I only allow orange in the backyard. There’s no orange in the front,” Colburn said.

As for what’s next Colburn says she will probably phase out parts of her garden to be conifers and evergreens so they’re easier to manage.

For anyone thinking about getting started on a garden she has a few pieces of advice.

“It’s not rocket science and even gardeners who have been gardening for many, many years, have failures and successes. So, try a whole palette of plants and and see what works for you and for your space,” Colburn said.

Colburn’s book can be found on Amazon.

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