Celia Thaxter's Garden Tours

A poppy in Celia Thaxter's Garden

Thank you for a wonderful summer! Our schedule for next season will be released in early 2020. Click here to be placed on the early notice list.

Trip Summary

Step back in time, and experience the unique beauty of Celia Thaxter's Island Garden! Recontructed and maintained by the Shoals Marine Laboratory, the garden is accessible to the public during guided Garden Tours each summer. 

Celia Thaxter's Garden Tour participants (34 per tour) will be transported to and from beautiful Appledore Island aboard the Research Vessel Gulf Challenger. Passengers should plan to meet the vessel at UNH's Judd Gregg Marine Research Complex adjacent to the U.S. Coast Guard Station in New Castle, NH.  As a part of this unique tour package, you will enjoy a fully-catered luncheon courtesy of the Shoals Marine Laboratory in our beautiful dining room offering expansive water views and an open deck – should you wish to dine en plein air!

The garden sits just where it was during Celia's lifetime and the raised beds and flowers follow the plan laid out in her acclaimed book, An Island Garden. Some of Celia's original plants are still in the garden: the snowdrops, the hops vine, and day lilies. Six-foot tall hollyhocks spill down to the water's edge, and of course brilliant red poppies are planted each year so that the garden echoes the famous  paintings of impressionist Childe Hassam.

In 2017, the piazza (wooden porch) that once connected Celia's cottage to her garden was successfully rebuilt. Tour participants can now enjoy breathtaking  island scenery from the piazza just as Celia and her guests did over 100 years ago!

A Sun Flower on Appledore Island

Tour Details


$100 per person (sorry, no group discounts available). All-inclusive package covers round-trip boat transportation, guided garden tours, and a gourmet catered lunch (includes beverages and dessert, served buffet style with vegetarian options available). FREE parking is available! You will receive trip confirmation details from SML after you register for a tour (dates below). 


  • Plan to arrive at the UNH Pier between 8:00-8:30am for check-in and orientation.
  • The trip will depart for Appledore Island promptly at 9:00am.
  • Trip participants return to the pier in New Castle by 3:30pm.

Departure Location:

  • Cruises depart from UNH's Judd Gregg Marine Research Complex, which is next to the U.S. Coast Guard Station at Fort Point in New Castle, NH.
  • Follow this link for directions to the dock in New Castle, NH where you will be boarding UNH's R/V Gulf Challenger.
  • Parking at the dock is limited! If you are traveling in a group, please make every effort to carpool.

Required Release Forms:

Know Before You Go:

About The Vessel:
Access to the vessel is via a steep floating ramp, and the slope of the ramp varies with the tide. Because the R/V Gulf Challenger is a working research vessel, it does not provide amenities commonly found on a regular passenger vessel. Participants should be prepared to stand for the duration of the trip to and from Appledore Island (~45 minutes one-way) and will have limited protection from sun, rain or sea spray. There is limited seating available in the vessel's cabin (below deck), and the cabin is only accessible via a steep set of stairs. Toilet facilities on the vessel, in addition to being small, are accessed via the steep set of stairs. Participants are encouraged to use the toilet facilities located at UNH's Judd Gregg Marine Research Complex prior to boarding the vessel.

Island Environment: 
Appledore Island is a rugged landscape with uneven, slightly steep and rocky paths. Access on/off the island is via a floating dock, a steep ramp, and a set stairs. Participants must be in good physical condition and should be prepared to spend a majority of the day walking (approximately 1-2 miles). Toilet facilities are available on Appledore Island.

Participants requiring special accommodations, such as the use of an American Sign Language interpreter or assistive listening device, should contact us at shoals.lab@unh.edu or 603-862-5346. A two-week notice for an interpreter is required. Due to the content of this tour, it is recommended that participants be 14 years or older.

Click here to view the gallery of our facilities and terrain. For your convenience, we have assembled a gallery of images showing the docks at UNH and SML, the deck and interior of the R/V Gulf Challenger, and the rocky Appledore landscape.

Weather Advisory:

Please be advised that Garden Tours may be cancelled on short notice due to inclement weather or dangerous sea conditions. This decision could be made as late as the morning of the tour if conditions deteriorate. In the event of cancellation, a rain date tour or a full refund will be offered. We make every effort to operate our tours as scheduled, but feel it is important to emphasize that Garden Tours are weather-dependent!

This year's rain date tour is Saturday, August 17, 2019.

Cancellation Policy:

Should participants cancel their own reservation, refunds are as follows for cancellations received:

  • At least 30 days before departure = 100% refund
  • 29-15 days before departure =  50% refund
  • Less than 15 days before departure = 0% refund

More Information on Celia Thaxter's Garden

Event Type


All-inclusive package covers round-trip boat transportation, guided garden tours, and a gourmet catered lunch (includes beverages and dessert, served buffet-style with vegetarian options available).


(603) 862-5346
Celia Thaxter's Island Garden