What is it about woodland gardens that stir our feelings of enchantment? Perhaps it is some magical attraction that appeals to our collective unconsciousness, something buried deep in our childhood memories. The play of light and shadow in trees and shrubs; the fascinating movements of birds, butterflies and bees; the mystery and allure of nature all combine to create a feeling of wonder.
Thom Koon’s odyssey creating a famous Nantucket woodland garden was pure happenstance. Although his father was an avid gardener, he did not ask his son to help with planting or maintenance. “I never really gardened,” says Koon. “I lived in New York City for 15 years before coming to Nantucket in the late 1970s. All I can remember doing with plants was to buy an occasional orchid for the apartment, or grow herbs on the fire escape.”
Roses have always had a singular allure; it’s no wonder that Cape Cod residents and visitors alike treasure these flowers. In general, roses do well in seaside locations, and they are treasured for gracing our landscapes with color during the summer and fall. Read more…
Spohr Gardens enchants visitors all year long
Add a romantic touch to your garden with these efficient sprinklers ($16.99). Just attach a hose and you’ve got a sprinkler and petite statue in one! Roughly four by six inches,in several desgins at Osterville House and Garden, 508-428-6911. Read more…
Designer Steve Wardle of Chatham’s Forest Beach Designer-Goldsmiths translated delicate pansy petals into gold, creating an elegant bracelet honoring spring. Each bloom is graced with a diamond. For information, call
508-945-7334, or go to www.capecodcharms.com.
When you grow your own fruits and vegetables, it is a special pleasure to preserve that goodness, giving your table a touch of summer sweetness, even when the snow flies.
Some of these recipes are as simple as chopping up a big bunch of fresh basil, drizzling in some olive oil… read on. And savor (and share!) the fruits of your good garden labor. Read more…
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…