For seven decades, from all over New England people have hurried back to Maine the third Thursday in every July for the Camden House & Garden Tour. Of course Maine is at its best in July. Moderate temperatures make summer gardens magical. And houses here reflect a love of the outdoors, claiming long views, letting the outside in.

Four houses, plus three other gardens are on this year’s tour, Tuesday, July 17, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Visitors will love all four, but imagine creating a 21st-century version of one's grandparents’ house, the one with all the hiding places, where colors moved across the floor as the sun visited all those leaded art glass windows. This almost-new house in Camden recalls the Arts and Crafts style of that house in Pasadena, Calif., with open beams, glowing wood, and Asian aesthetic furnishings and light fixtures, as well as antiques, contemporary pieces, and sculpture. Less beautiful, but remarkable is the large room on the lower level housing a this-century geothermal heat and water-treatment system, open for inspection on the tour.

Three of the tour houses are on saltwater. This one is halfway up Mount Battie, with a wide view to Matinicus Island and the Rockland Breakwater. Water is key in the near landscape, too — a stream, ponds, and a beach-like swimming pool. Extensive perennial gardens bloom from spring to frost. Thousands of trees and plants merge the new with the natural setting.

In addition to the three other houses, three gardens-only stops on the tour will include a visit to the Barbara Furey garden, which this year won the New England Region’s award for the best perennial garden created and maintained by a National Garden Club member. Then the beautiful Avena herb gardens, with morning and afternoon walks with the owner to talk about herbal medicines. And next door, another private garden with glorious flowers, a long view of rolling hills, and a wide grass path bordered by stone walls, wandering off, looking like Ireland.

More information about the Camden House and Garden Tour can be had at or by calling Signe Mather at 596-7263. Tickets can be purchased ahead of the day for $25, online or in Camden at Surroundings, Whitehall Inn, and Margo Moore; in Rockport at Leonard's, Plants Unlimited, and Hoboken Gardens; in Belfast at Brambles; in Waldoboro at Moose Crossing.

Tickets the day of the tour will be $30, from the south at the Maine Sport parking lot on Route 1, Camden, and north of Camden, at the Camden Hills State Park, Route 1. On the day of tour, no credit cards will be accepted. Unfortunately, much of the tour is not handicapped accessible.

All tour proceeds make possible the hanging geranium baskets and holiday wreaths on Camden’s light posts, flower boxes and beds, the children’s amphitheater, scholarships, street trees, maintaining the Village green, and many other gifts to this community. Camden is a part of the Garden Club Federation of Maine and National Garden Clubs, Inc.