Anne Richie photography
Ruby McDermott has spent her life in gardens. As a child, Ruby remembers watching her mother and grandmother tend their perennials as she scooped up piles of sweet-smelling peony petals left on the ground after a good rain and chewed on the tender ends of long grasses. In 4th grade, Ruby grew green beans in her family’s backyard. When the beans were ripe, she picked them, put them in paper bags, loaded up her bike basket and sold them door to door. She made enough money to buy herself a new dress to wear to school; green, with a garden tool pattern.
Ruby’s grandfather started one of the most successful nurseries in Omaha, and both grandfather's worked the land: one a farmer, the other a landscape architect. Add being born on Arbor day—which, like Ruby, originated in Nebraska—and one must conclude that Ruby was destined to have the greenest of green thumbs.
In 1979 Ruby moved onto a 30-acre property in Freeport, Maine. She immediately began turning the earth, growing vegetables, and installing flower gardens. The soil happened to be some of the best, healthiest loam any gardener could ask for, and the importance of maintaining it was not lost on Ruby. Thus, she embraced composting, double digging, soil testing and amendments as the foundation for any healthy garden.
Ruby’s first high-profile landscaping job was the Harraseeket Inn, also in Freeport, where she designed, installed, and maintained numerous perennial and annual gardens, some major hardscapes, and 3 different water features. The Inn’s gardens were Ruby’s for 23 years, and she always introduced new plant material as she updated. Approaching the Inn on Main Street, guests, tourists, and townsfolk alike were treated to showy gardens tucked around the rambling white buildings, surrounding the drive and parking areas, with large containers of lush seasonal plantings making each entrance point welcoming.
There are many Ruby-designed landscapes and private gardens in Coastal Maine, especially in Freeport, where she played a large hand in the Public Safety Building gardens; even the highway entrance/exit divider islands. Recently, Ruby has moved her efforts a bit to the South, updating older gardens and landscapes in Cape Elizabeth and Scarboro with new designs, new plant materials, and rejuvenated soils. Last fall, she was part of a shoreline restoration project, removing invasive plants (including bittersweet that had entirely swallowed a beautiful, crooked pine tree), but saving the beach roses (Rosa rugosa), then in-filling with native shrubs and grasses.
In Florida, Ruby seized an opportunity to design a butterfly garden, and reaped the delights of dodging colorful “winged flowers” as they swooped in to drink nectar. Protection of pollinators is a key concern for any gardener these days. In February of 2020, Ruby designed and installed an attractive and low maintenance landscape in Tampa, Florida, using native materials to naturalize a very sandy backyard.
Ruby's educational resumé includes teaching gardening workshops, lecturing at the Maine Flower Show, attending and later teaching at SMCC, as well as studying landscape design at Radcliffe.
When Ruby comes onto your property, she brings with her 35 years of experience. She is currently available for consultations and design work throughout Southern Maine and Florida.
Meet Todd Robbins
A licensed Maine arborist, Todd Robbins is one of only ten in the state additionally certified by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) with a Tree Risk Assessment Qualification (TRAQ). In addition to serving the Town of Cape Elizabeth, Maine as its official Tree Warden, Todd owns and operates TMR Property Services, leading a talented and hardworking team to provide full-service landscaping, handyman and property maintenance services, as well as tree care, to residential and commercial customers in the Greater Portland area.
Todd has more than 25 years of experience in the landscaping industry, including 15 years as assistant property manager for over 2,000 acres of private land in Cape Elizabeth, and manager of a landscaping company. Todd is educated and trained in horticulture with a deep knowledge of trees and plant material. He brings an eye for design and attention to detail to every job, and a passion to deliver exceptional service and quality work for his customers.
So, given my love for creating, reviving, and sustaining landscapes, you can imagine that when Todd asked me to join him in his new landscaping and property management business, it didn’t take me more than a minute to say yes. Todd is high energy, positive, creative, and honest. He cares about people and the quality of his work. I knew we would make a good team.