Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

Massive Wooden Trolls Now Protect Seeds at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

Giant pieces of artwork depicting trolls are now on display at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay

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The trolls you'll now find at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay are neither the scary kind that live under bridges nor the ones with funky, "brushable" hair.

Instead, the five massive wooden trolls are giant piece of artwork with a message about reconnecting with nature.

"This just fits with what people need right now, a reason to both get outside and kind of disconnect, but also reconnect with the world around them," said Daniel Ungier, the vice president of guest experience and education for the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens.

The sculptures, some of which exceed 15 feet in height, are the result of a two-year, approximately-half-million-dollar collaboration with Thomas Dambo, a Danish sculptor who has created dozens of similar trolls in outdoor spaces around the world.

There are none in the northeast except for the trolls in Maine, and they are made from recycled wood pallets, with scraps of wood like branches applied to make beards, eyebrows and hair.

"I just think they're amazing," said Marylou Tingle, visiting from a seasonal home in Bristol, Maine, who compared the woodwork on the trolls to her passion, quilting.

According to Ungier, the trolls "all are part of a story and they're part of a fairy tale the artist created about how they're protecting seeds that protect the biodiversity of the forest."

"If you make it to find all five trolls, you actually solve a riddle and you discover the location where these seeds are hidden in our forest, and that's the final destination," he added.

Staff at the botanical gardens also say climbing on the trolls is allowed, as long as it is done safely, such as on the trolls' legs.

"It's been great for the kids," said Emily Faherty, a mom from Harwich who was visiting the trolls with her family.

During his interview with NECN and NBC10 Boston on Monday, Ungier said the trolls' full interpretive experience would be ready for the public by Memorial Day weekend and, though they are viewable right now, they are technically still in a sneak-peek setup.

He also noted that there is an online reservation system that is required to secure time slots to see the gardens and trolls.

While masks are not required when outdoors and socially distanced from other groups at the gardens, they are required in any indoor spaces and in outdoor spaces where crowding occurs.

If you are unable to see the trolls this summer, fear not -- the sculptures are made of untreated wood, but will not be taken down at the end of the season. The gardens expect them to be a feature installation from anywhere from five to 10 years.

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