There is something so elemental about vegetable gardening, putting a simple seed in the ground, watering and watching over it until one day a tiny green sprout appears. I can still remember the excitement I felt when I planted a row of radishes in my first vegetable garden. One of the easiest, quickest vegetables to grow, the sprouts popped up, flourished in no time at all and soon plump red radishes formed, perfect for salads.
When our publisher, Brian Shortsleeve, suggested that we launch Cape Cod GARDENS as a new April Cape Cod LIFE issue, I could not believe my luck. I can work in my Cape Cod garden by the hour without any sense of time. I am imagining bright red tomatoes, rows of vibrant basil, glimmering mounds of zucchini, billowing hydrangea, and perfect velvet-petaled roses as I plant, weed, and prune. I do not stop until the spring, summer, or fall sun goes down, or a blister develops on my hand, or my family and the dog wander by, wondering about a meal. Reluctantly, then, I put down my tools and turn off the story in my head. But I know I can pass through that gate again tomorrow into that imaginary world.
The same thing happens to me when I am writing. When I am writing at the office and it is going well, I do not hear phones ringing or coworkers talking. I am in whatever world I am creating and reality moves without boundaries just before a blinking cursor on my computer screen. Often, I don’t realize that the day is almost over until it starts to get dark in my office and I notice that my coworkers are heading home. This is what happens when you do not care how many hours it takes to help create a magazine with words and pictures as if it were a garden full of sight, color, and experiences so vivid that others can know it with you.
In this issue, you will see some of my garden world. Just as it is a joy for me to share this passion with you, one of the Cape’s best known garden writers, C.L.Fornari takes you through the world of growing roses, her knowledgeable words guiding you down the path to growing that perfect seaside rose. When C.L. writes about gardening, you can tell that she loves her job, too.
Our photographers move you into the natural world on Cape Cod and the Islands, their images caught in flashes of glory on these pages, so vivid that you want to reach out and touch that hot chartreuse beach grass along a wooded Nantucket path, where a gardener is following his vision of plants and stones and glimmering koi in a small pond…
I hope our very first Cape Cod GARDENS helps you shape your own garden world, perhaps with a little bit of Cape Cod and the Islands beauty from these pages in it, some bright lilies seen in this issue beside a Nantucket pond, or my favorite nasturtiums by our back door dancing in the golden light of a Cape Cod afternoon.
Susan Dewey, Associate Publisher & Editor
People who have never been to Cape Cod can still envision a haven of tidy little clapboard houses, a sight so familiar to many that people from all over can picture what a “Cape” house looks like. From Florida to San Diego, you can find Capes in almost any neighborhood. The first Capes were built centuries ago to survive tough winters like the one that we are slogging through as I write this during the eighth winter storm we have endured this year.
Sitting beside a living room fire on a wild February day in our 250-year-old Cape, I try to imagine all the people who lived in this house before us. We are lucky enough to know who lived here for most of the last 100 years because my husband’s family has owned the house since the 1920s. We have heard that the house was owned for a long time before that by women—but we have not traced the home’s complete history all the way back to Captain Bearse, who built the house in 1730.
Still, I am grateful to those unknown Cape Codders who cared for this sturdy, compact home. It is built low to the ground with a crooked staircase to the second floor, which is tucked under the eaves for warmth. Every room in the original house hugs a big center chimney that still draws effortlessly. A mile from the ocean, the house faces south, placed there to capture every bit of sunlight on long winter days.
This house—just like the handsome new Wellfleet home featured in this issue—was built to make the most of the physical world around it, to exist in harmony with nature. Of course, our Captain Bearse wouldn’t know what you were talking about if you told him that his house had an environmentally sensitive footprint. But there is something wonderful about the fact that the Los Angeles architect who designed this issue’s sophisticated, yet comfortable Wellfleet home on the dunes returned to the wisdom of those who first loved this wild, fiercely natural place.
As the wind howls, I know that soon great grandmother’s lilacs will burst into bloom along our driveway, sweet promises of yet another spring unfolding outside our back door. The more things change, the more they stay the same—at least for those us lucky enough to live in a home of any kind on Cape Cod.
Associate Publisher & Editor,
While sometimes hard to find, Cape Cod still has hidden treasures. Many of us have secret spots: the little known beach tucked at the end of an unassuming road, the unmarked hiking trail through a marsh. Perhaps more than houses or other objects of wealth, here on the Cape, land and privacy are two of the most cherished luxuries. Add a small slice of ocean and you have a Cape Cod fortune.
South from Osterville village, heading towards the ocean along winding back roads, you would probably pass right by a certain gem of a spot on Seaview Avenue. Tucked between larger, newer, fancier homes is a 1960s era colonial whose approach and facade reveal nothing of a secret Eden stretching from the home’s backdoor to the sea. While the house is comfortable and tasteful, the backyard is the real prize. Read more…
It’s rare to catch Woods Hole’s Mark Chester without a camera. Over the span of almost 40 years, Chester has learned that it’s often best to shoot first and ask questions later, and that the best photos often come when they’re least expected. Every once in a while, they come in pairs. Read more…
When interior designer Hope Van der Wolk began redecorating a grand turn-of-the-century seaside home in the Mid Cape area, she knew the house had a lot to reveal. But the summer house’s starry presence was being dimmed by some of it best features: the dark wood paneling, high ceilings, and vast scale.
So the Osterville designer, a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design and veteran of the studios of Ralph Lauren and Mario Buatta, called on her mastery of color, texture, and form to give the century-old beauty an interior lift. “I knew of the house, so the possibility of working on it was very exciting,” Hope says. She now has a deep relationship with the house, redecorating it two or three rooms at a time. Read more…
Walking through the extensive plantings of the Hydrangea Farm Nursery on Nantucket in July, one feels swept away by an undulating sea of color, awash with deep and subtle blues, subtle pinks, gradations of purple, and brilliant whites. The bushy mopheads and delicate lacecaps sway in the wind with a rhythm that is visually intoxicating.
This year marks the farm’s eleventh in business, and owners Malcolm and Mary Kay Condon have given the word retirement a new definition. Their passion for the shrub doesn’t allow them much down time after leaving behind 14 years as innkeepers of the island’s Stumble Inn. Yet it was in the garden of the inn that they first became enamored with the hardy cultivar. Their love affair with this quintessential Nantucket shrub began with just two plants in pretty poor shape. Read more…
Truly Custom, Truly Local
The Sourcebook of Architectural and Design Elements Handcrafted on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket is issuing a 2011 edition with the addition of a new addendum. Compiled by The Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, the book is a resource for builders, architects, designers, and home owners who want to find custom, high-end items created by local craftsmen. The beautifully presented guide features the 52 artists from the first edition and ten new ones in the addendum. The book ($39.95) is a “must have” for anyone who wants “truly custom, truly local” design elements. Visit www.capeandislandssourcebook.com for ordering information.
Crack the cover to Martha’s Vineyard Tile: Hidden Gems in Island Homes and open the world of possibilities provided by artisan tile. This elegant hardcover book, photographed by Alison Shaw with text by Shelley Christiansen, provides an in-depth tour of the kitchens, bathrooms, and enviable surroundings of well-appointed Vineyard homes using tile in creative ways. The pages are peppered with useful design and decoration tips as well as profiles of local artisans. Produced by Vineyard Stories in conjunction with the Martha’s Vineyard Tile Company, this book is an indispensable resource. $34.95. To find out more, log on to www.mvtileco.com or call 508-693-9707.
Homes for the Ages
Hutker Architects has constructed more than 200 homes over its 26 years. In Heirlooms to Live in: Homes in a New Regional Vernacular, Mark Hutker, the founder of the award-winning firm, with offices in Falmouth, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket, outlines his theories on designing and building exceptional homes. Hutker focuses on regional character in architecture, and crafting homes that become family keepsakes—not just dwelling spaces. The handsomely designed book brings these concepts to life by looking at 25 of the firm’s notable projects with comprehensive selections of sketches, blueprints, and photographs by Alison Shaw and Brian Vanden Brink. $75. Published by Oscar Riera Ojeda Publishers. For more information, visit www.hutkerarchitects.com.
Thanks to everyone who came to the 2011 Boston Flower & Garden Show! We launched our exciting new publication, Cape Cod GARDENS, at the show this week. This special issue is coming soon to subscribers and newsstands as the April issue of Cape Cod LIFE.
Take a look at the Cape Cod Life pergola and other exhibits at the Boston Flower & Garden Show.
Take a 360º tour from inside the Cape Cod Life pergola.
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