Last summer while in New Hampshire, I learned about a botanical garden in Boothbay Harbor Maine that has an installation of enormous wooden trolls. Naturally, I wanted to see them! However, the drive is three and a half hours each way, too long for a day trip. So, in advance of my annual summer return to NH, I contacted my friend, Janet, who lives in Portland, and proposed that we visit the gardens this year. To my great delight, she agreed.
The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens is comprised of 248 splendid acres, beautifully designed and lushly planted, alone worth the excursion. But the trolls– these are something else entirely.
Thomas Danbo, a Danish artist, is the creator of these incredible figures. A knowledgeable docent gave us the interesting and serendipitous background of how they came to be there. Thomas met a woman in Barcelona who was from Rye, NH. They married and lived in Copenhagen. Sometime later, the couple came to Rye to attend a wedding. On the way, they stopped to visit a friend of Thomas’ wife who worked at the Botanical Garden. Thomas, who has installed his giant trolls in locations all over the world, determined these gardens would be the perfect setting for his giant creatures.
He designed 5 of them. The heads, hands and feet were constructed at his studio in Denmark and shipped in containers to Maine, where the bodies were constructed. Due to Covid, Thomas’ own crews were unable to travel to the US and a search yielded ten skilled artisans and 100 volunteers to complete the installation in situ, which took two months.
Each of the trolls is 20-25 feet tall. They are constructed from local, recycled materials, the artist’s purpose being to bring attention to the importance of conservation. He is driven by concern about the extinction of trees and the loss of biodiversity.
Without further ado, then, here are Roskva, Lilia, Soren, Gro, and Birk.