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Elaborate gardens enhance cozy Maine cottage

“This property is really a garden with a nice comfortable place to live,” Helen Wisdom, of Cushing, Maine, says of her camp-turned-contemporary-cottage at the mouth of Davis Cove and the Meduncook River.

The two-story house overlooks Davis Cove and the mouth of the Meduncook River.

An avid gardener, Wisdom purchased the 1-acre waterfront property at the tip of the Cushing peninsula “because I adore the view,” which encompasses the cove, river and the open waters of Muscongus Bay.

“It’s breathtaking — usually so peaceful and always changing,” the 74-year-old retired teacher says.

After 27 years of creating the gardens from scratch, remodeling the house and enjoying the view, Wisdom has the property on the market for $845,000. The sale includes the 1,200-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bath year-round home, a lot with 370 feet of granite ledge waterfront, and a deepwater dock, ramp and float.

“I thought I wanted an old waterfront cape,” says Wisdom, who taught elementary school science and math in New Orleans, where she owns a home. ”After scouring the Maine coast for 10 years, I found this spot. It’s a sweet little house, easy to care for — perfect for two people. My [three] kids and their families never all come at once, so I don’t need a big house or its maintenance.”

Wisdom hired an architect to remodel the 1970s house. Now the bedrooms are on the ground level, and the living room, dining area and kitchen are upstairs. The west-facing waterfront end of the living room is all glass — from the peak of the ridge to the sliding doors accessing the spacious waterfront wraparound deck. The exterior stairs leading down to ground level were sited to maximize the views of the formal gardens and the water beyond.

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In the living room, the natural-stained beams, cathedral ceiling and wood floors complement the fieldstone fireplace, which supplements the oil-fired forced hot water heat. (Windows and ceiling fans provide Maine’s natural cooling.) The dining area occupies the room’s sunny northwest corner. It opens to the sunroom, with its three walls of glass, spectacular water view and sliders to the deck.

The adjacent pullman kitchen, which Wisdom considers “plenty large enough,” is lined with cabinets, counters and appliances, including a washer and dryer. The kitchen is conveniently tucked between the dining room and a small deck, which is handy for grilling.

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On the ground level, the master suite (with an en suite bath) features sliding glass doors opening to a waterfront patio beneath the upper deck. Two guest bedrooms share a second full bath. An exterior storage area is attached to the house.

Since 1987, Wisdom has poured her energy into creating gardens of many types — shady areas beneath the mature trees, perennial plantings, flowering shrubs and bursts of colorful annuals, all with an ocean backdrop and frequented by birds. (The gardens were featured in DownEast magazine and the coffee table book Gardens Maine Style II.)

“It is such a joy to work out here in the air and light,” she says.

The shingled wood frame house sits on a concrete slab and it has ceiling fans, a private well and a septic system. Annual taxes are about $7,400.

Terry Sortwell, (207) 236-3543,, of LandVest, Camden, Maine,, lists the property.

September 2014 issue