The Wonderful Windowbox

Colorful windowboxes provide touches of beauty to homes and businesses all season long.

One of the joys of summer on Nantucket is the beautiful windowboxes decorating homes on nearly every street. Displays of gorgeous color come alive as soon as the daffodils come into bloom during the island’s annual April Daffodil Festival, when more than 50,000 bulbs burst forth all over this island, attracting visitors from near and far for a popular seaside festival.

The Wonderful Windowbox Read more…

Our 20 BEST OF Years…and Counting!

Best of Years

This summer,  Cape Cod Life is celebrating the 20th anniversary of our Best Of Readers’ Awards poll.

Since 1992, we’ve reached out to our readers for their Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket favorites. In our first Best Of issue, voters mailed back paper ballots with hand-written choices for attractions, beaches, and restaurants in just 16 categories. This spring, the voting is completely digital and the categories have expanded considerably to include 50 categories for everything under the sun. Read more…

Love In Bloom

From classic designs to seaside bouquets, Cape wedding floral ideas come alive on a visit with Verde Floral Designs in Mashpee Commons.


“Elegant, romantic, and traditional—or beachy, casual, and natural. Those are the words that I hear from Cape brides,” says Jeff Sawyer, owner of Verde Floral Designs. Jeff (in this case Jeff is a woman’s name!) has a passion for flowers—and Cape Cod. After 15 years of success in the corporate world, when she enjoyed the Cape as a getaway, Jeff opened a lovely Mashpee Commons shop where she is finally able to combine both her loves. She particularly enjoys working with Cape brides. “When I ask brides what atmosphere they want at their wedding they all have their own ideas—but almost every bride wants her flowers to reflect that special Cape Cod feeling,” says Jeff. Read more…

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On Cape Cod mornings in weather fair or foul, you might see 79-year-old Stan Snow rowing his boat on Orleans’ Town Cove. Just like his great grandfather, Aaron Snow, who often sailed up and down the East Coast in search of the best products for the family’s famous store, Stan knows the importance of sticking to things.  Read more…

Love on the Wing

We are planning a wedding.

In September, our son, Dan, will marry a Cape Cod girl, Erika, in West Barnstable Parish Church. The reception will be in a meadow that looks out towards Sandy Neck Beach.

Erika was born on Cape Cod—she is a sea sprite of a girl with hair the color of beach grass and blue eyes like the ocean on a bright September day. She grew up loving the water and life by the beach. She is the kind of person you would be lucky to have in a small sailboat during a sudden storm on Vineyard Sound.

Dan was not born on Cape Cod, but he has been here for some part of every summer from the first time when he happily dug his eight-month-old toes in the warm sand at Craigville Beach. After the wedding, they will live in West Barnstable where Dan runs an organic land care business. Erika hopes to teach art in a Cape school.

We are excited that our two families are joining together, strands knotting tight like a good bowline knot. On her Mom’s side, Erika is descended from the Hopkins family who has been on the Cape since the 1600s. Through my dad’s side, Dan is descended from the Higgins family, who were part of a pioneering group—which, incidentally, also included the Hopkins family—who settled the Orleans area.

In this, our special wedding edition, we share some happy memories from recent Cape  weddings. Read about Kathleen and Dan Hodge whose wedding at Ocean Edge Resort last summer was classically romantic with special seaside flair. Find out why Cape wedding planners often choose Sperry Tents for their clients in a stunning photographic spread and story on page 60. And revel in the fantasia of seaside wedding floral designs by Mashpee Commons Verde Floral Design on page 54. Lastly, read Brian Shortsleeve’s Gunk’holing on page 96. We share the column Brian wrote in 1990 as he was preparing to marry his wife, Judy, in an island ceremony to remember.

It is May. The hydrangea are in full bud. The osprey have come back to reunite with their mates, wild calls waking us to sea and sun and plans for seaside days.

Love is in the air. Come celebrate the start of our splendid season!


Susan Dewey, Associate Publisher
& Editor,

Green Dreams

201203hsp_001 I have this fantasy that someday we will move out of our old Cape into a green house—not the kind where you grow flowers, although that would be fine with me, too—but an environmentally efficient house where we could live a sustainable life. This fantasy occurs often in the winter months when the floors of our house are very cold (no insulation), the wind whips through ancient doors, and the furnace never seems to stop running. Read more…

Mystery Island Mystery Island

Do you know the name of this island?

Click here to guess the name of this island

Lying 14 miles off of the mainland and measuring roughly two and a half miles long and three-quarters of a mile wide, this island is the westernmost of the Elizabeth Islands. This island’s location at the entrance to the Vineyard Sound, just 10 miles from the coast of Cape Cod, makes it a favorite destination for sailors from around the world. The harbor here has a 10-foot draft at mean low tide and is protected on two sides by stone breakwaters. The shape of the island is like that of a lobster with one claw broken off. Read more…

Growing seedlings for your vegetable garden


Chrissy Caskey The first thing to consider when starting your own seedlings (which usually take around six weeks to be ready for planting in the garden) is light. To sprout and flourish, seedlings need lots of sunlight, such as that found in a bright Southern exposure window, or steady constant light provided by fluorescent lamps. Read more…

Reap What You Sow

Starting your own vegetables from seed is time consuming—but worth the work—for Cape Cod gardens.

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The pleasure of vegetable gardening never grows old. Even on Cape Cod—where variable soil conditions range from sandy to solid clay and erratic weather patterns run from humid summers to cold storm-battered autumns—there’s nothing like growing your own tomatoes, beans, brussels sprouts, lettuce, or whatever vegetable suits your fancy.

The gardening season on Cape Cod and the Islands is longer than in many other New England regions. The surrounding ocean warms things up every summer, which is why this area has a hardiness designation of Zone 7. Zone 7 stretches from Cape Cod to Georgia and includes places like Charlotte, North Carolina.  Read more…

Where Shells Bloom Where Shells Bloom

The spring season has a subtle presence on Cape Cod. Surrounded by cool waters, the land warms up at a glacial pace. While inland friends begin to talk about picnics, baseball games, and sunbathing, we are still bundled up in fleece, trudging along our beaches with wind-burned faces. Still, there are days in March and April when the sun feels so warm that you can lay down on the sand and almost believe you are sunbathing . . . so long as you keep your parka on.

There is an austere beauty to the beaches and the marshlands at this time of year. The first week of March as my husband and I walked along Centerville’s Long Beach, the light on the ocean was so bright, we had to put on sunglasses. The marshes glowed gold and it was warm enough that our 15-year-old Lab dove into the ocean after a flock of Mallards.

We said to each other that we are lucky to live here, natural riches all around us. Sometimes when I look at the Cape landscape in the winter or early spring—the spiky marsh grasses, stunted oaks, twisted pines, scrubby cranberry bushes and prickly cedars, I think of what Mayflower pilgrim William Bradford wrote about his first sight of the Cape on a December day in 1620.

Bradford described the Cape as “a hideous dessert (sic) wilderness  . . . of a wild and savage hue.” I think that description is still apt, even though we try to tame this unruly place with our manicured lawns and perfect gardens. Still, we all know that nature can blow away all our orderly impulses in a heartbeat. After every winter storm our beaches and marshes are altered, sometimes dramatically. That is what happened this winter to the shell tree on Long Beach.

For years we have admired the shell tree, a scraggly, long gone cedar festooned with shells by walkers. The first time I saw it, I thought something magical had happened on that cool April day and that the tree in the distance bloomed with some kind of rare flower. The tree was a white cloud in the distance, limbs heavy with shells.

There have been some bad storms this winter and when we saw the shell tree on our recent walk, several limbs were gone. The shell tree is a sad sight now. But we discovered that something wonderful has happened. All along Long Beach’s trails, shrubs and trees are covered with more shell flowers.

Our daffodils may be late and our lawns slow to green, but on Long Beach there are flowers blooming year-round on this, our splendid wild desert.

Happy Spring,

Susan Dewey

Susan Dewey, Associate Publisher & Editor

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