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The thrill of the troll hunt in Maine

Gro, the troll at the Central Maine Botanical Gardens, smiles with the leaves. (Regina López/YJI)

Boothbay, Maine, U.S.A. – The thrills of summer are endless, especially for young, adventurous souls like me. As I embarked on my quest to discover the secrets of the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden, I learned of a curious untold tale. Underneath the canopy of trees hid mysterious beasts, guarding the beauty of nature: five massive, friendly trolls.

Unequivocally, the opportunity to investigate these intriguing creatures gripped me – I leapt into the adventure. 

The warm rays of sun shone on the glistening ponds and dewy grass that morning, excitement in the air. As I trekked through the natural beauties of the garden in search of these elusive creatures, I spotted a peculiar wooden structure peeping out behind a grove of trees. Among the flowering blooms of summer and the chirping birds, the humming of the bees seemed to point to the confounding peculiarity behind the canopies.

Quickly, I moved to find the first Guardian of the Seeds: Roskva.

Roskva, the troll who stands for the trunks. (YJI photo)

Leaning on a tree trunk, she overlooked the gardens from above. She stood for the trunks, the strength of the tree. The hums of lilting tunes pulled my attention away. The soft notes came from deeper into the woods – a daring adventure indeed.

Following the childlike music, I stumbled upon Lilja, who held the scent of the flowers. Only a baby, she still towered over me, almost triple my height. She smiled upon the marvelous colors of the flowers she championed. The beauty of the gardens seemed to become magnified, an air of wonder and discovery in the air. 

Only a short walk away, my quest took me to find the Guardian of the Seeds responsible for protecting the foundation of the very garden: Birk, holder of the roots. His wisdom was unmatched, but the aura around him was misty and mysterious. He hid among the fog and shadows, quietly listening to the stories of the forest. Secrets of the natural world seemed to spill from the squirrels and the crickets into Birk’s ears. 

Baby Lilja holds the scent of the flowers. Here she is with Harsha and Sreehitha Gandluri. (YJI photo)

My attention was quickly yanked away as I began to trek the terrain in search of the next elusive Guardian of the Seeds. As I searched for another large troll, I became engrossed in the branches of the trees surrounding the quaint dirt paths. They twisted and turned, curling into a peculiar shape. Peeking around a boulder covered in moss, I found the I was not looking simply at branches, but at a wild and free hairdo.

Soren, the guardian of the branches boasted a wonderfully playful pose, his hair spiking over the tops of trees. He danced as the warm breeze rustled the leaves, a curious but undoubtedly interesting sight. 

The troll Roskva in the distance, beyond the flower beds and pond. (YJI photo)

There was only one troll left to find, but there was a ticking clock.

Gro, the guardian of the leaves, would disappear as soon as the first leaves of autumn fell. Notorious for wandering into unreachable corners of the garden, she would be incredibly hard to find – but I was ready for the challenge. Through rocky waterfalls, ponds of leaping fish, and puzzling mazes embedded into the grass, I found myself at the very ends of the garden when I finally could gaze upon Gro. She sat criss-crossed upon a massive boulder, grinning at any onlookers. Her hands were open, willing to offer her gifts to any that needed it.

Peaceful and generous, the final troll was gathering the last ingredients for her famous feast – some sun rays and fresh raindrops. 

Sreehitha Gandluri is a Correspondent with Youth Journalism International.

City girl gets in touch with nature in Maine

Boothbay, Maine, U.S.A. – For one day, I got to be an explorer. During the summer, I visited Maine for a week. Although there are some beautiful and famous places, I was most excited to visit the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens.

I haven’t been to very many places. I have lived in Mexico City my whole life and I rarely go out of the country, but thanks to Instagram I have seen pictures of the most fascinating places in the world.

A month before I went to Maine, I looked up every picture the internet had, and for me, the most alluring place was the botanical gardens, which were the home for the famous trolls.

My friend Sreehitha Gandluri had been there before and half of her pictures were of her standing in front of these massive wooden trolls. The trolls were made by Thomas Dambo, a Danish artist who calls himself a ‘recycle art activist.’

In the photo above, Author Sreehitha Gandluri poses like Søren, the troll that sticks up for the branches.

There are trolls all over the world but the botanical gardens in Maine have the biggest collection.

The first thing I saw as soon as I stepped into the gardens was a little wooden bridge over a pond surrounded by gardens. I felt like I was in the setting of a children’s story. I happily skipped my way over the bridge. The garden has different sections and attractions, but my mission was to look for the trolls.

Although I was looking for the trolls, I loved wandering through the gardens. The gardens are designed for people not to step into the green areas or damage nature in any way; so it was the perfect harmony between nature and us. I didn’t feel like I was invading or damaging the place, everyone was having a good time and learning about every living thing that inhabited the gardens.

The trolls were impressive. They are called the Guardians of the Seeds. Next to each troll, you can read its story. It tells you the troll’s name and which part of the forest it’s protecting.

I really liked that they each have a story and a meaning behind them, because probably that’s the only way we would care about them and the forest.

A waterfall inside the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. (Regina López/YJI)

I had never been so close to nature, so in Maine I was able to see little, but beautiful things that I never expected to touch me so deeply. For the first time, I got to see a sky full of stars. Beauty is truly anywhere.

Regina López is a Correspondent with Youth Journalism International

Below, Sreehitha Gandluri strikes a serene pose like Gro. (YJI photo)

YJI’s Sreehitha Gandluri strikes a pose like Birk, the troll who holds the roots. (YJI photo)

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