One of my favorite places to loiter and get rejuvenated is Fiacre on Pleasant Street, in Portland, Maine. It is like entering another world. Exquisite hand-crafted greenhouse accessories combine with exotic flowers and plants to create a garden lovers paradise. Saint Fiacre, for those who don't know, is the patron saint of gardening, and those who grow vegetables and medicinal plants. An Irish monk who lived in Meaux, France in the mid 600's, he is commonly invoked for healing based on his skill with medicinal plants.
Run by Melissa and her partner Angus, you will always find something to treat yourself with or bring to a firiend. In winter there is always narcissus with hand-blown vases to grow them in, myrtle topiaries, and cut flowers not seen much in Maine (see above the gorgeous long stem french tulips!) She has hand forged tools and contemporary planters with an industrial edge. Some of her things have a reference to history and famous gardens, like the black raven statues she had last summer that were copies from Colonial Willamsburg.
When I was in the other day, she had just bought this stunning magnolia branch to bring the window to life. We all need to see things like this after this long winter! She has a eye for the extravagant accent. Excellent hand crafted terracotta pots, and one of a kind planters are everywhere. She was telling me that she has coming in some great mocha terracotta that she found outside of Rome. Each time I am in I buy another pot to add to my collection!
All the statuary and pots have that mossy look like they have already been in the garden for awhile. The concrete figures are beautifully cast and unusual. The air smells like the hand made soaps and salves on the shelves.
She has the classics soaps like Savon de Marsielles and Cucina as well as other smaller millers.
They have a fantastic selection of books on gardens, gardening and cooking. Again, her taste is selective with books by Netherlands garden design guru Piet Oudolf, and new sensations like Holly Herrick, the Charleston, South Carolina food writer (I hear her book on French sauces is fantastic!). Her partner Angus is the creator of all the wonderful colorful ceramics in the shop that are a nice addition to the neutral colors of terracotta and concrete. The atmosphere in the shop is casual and very down to earth, a great place for a pleasant conversation about all things garden with two people who are modest, yet incredibly knowledgeable.
When you are in you also might suddenly have two new friends who might follow you quietly around the store, so be careful where you step! Their two little terriers are often sleeping in the sun coming through the front door, but are happy to check you out when you come in.
I recommend a visit to this oasis after the long winter. Melissa goes to the flower market in Boston most weeks and she will have something irresistible for you!