After the Thaw

Winter blankets take many shapes. There’s the warmth of our Pendleton wool, thrown over our legs and tucked under our feet, working just as hard as the woodstove to keep the heat in while we sleep. There’s the snow outside that comes and goes—covering the strawberry patch and the raspberry cane roots from December to March. There’s the extra fur the dog grows over his rump and between his paw pads, keeping him moving over ice and snow.

And over the garden, there’s a thin, sturdy layer of plastic—nothing expensive, nothing fancy—but enough to cover the crops so that in even the coldest months, they grow.

Not everyone, of course, can stand the chill. The basil and eggplants die off long before late October, when we cover the rows. The tomatoes get pulled out not long after while the green beans say their parting words, and the kitchen herbs move inside to sunny doorways and windowsills. Stacey Hedman

But the greens—the cabbage and kale and lettuce and spinach and Swiss chard and arugula—these thrive under their thin cover all winter long. We harvest the late summer plantings from Thanksgiving through March, and a new crop goes in toward the end of February. It’s hard to believe that under such a thin plastic blanket the seedlings still sprout. But they do, skyward and reaching, sure that spring is coming soon.

By early May, the beds are full again, a sea of bushy green rows.

I always over-plant—the promise of seed packets in February is too much to resist—and by mid-May, we have a full-blown greens crisis on our hands. Salads are mandatory at dinner and lunch, and on weekend mornings I sneak sautéed spinach and Swiss chard onto our plates alongside hot toast and fried eggs.

But my favorite way to eat the greens, hands down, is cooked with onions and garlic, layered with filo dough and cheese, and served as an entrée: spanakopita.

If you’ve never had spanakopita, it’s a Greek delight. It’s a savory spinach pie, or really more of a pastry, filled with eggs and ricotta and feta and greens. In the Greek countryside, rural women bulk up their spinach with leeks and Swiss chard, and in the cities fancy restaurants add kalamata olives or pine nuts.

I never do much to dress it up—with greens straight out of the garden, there’s no need for that. I just head outside in the late afternoon, down the deck stairs with colander and garden shears in hand, and start snipping my way through the spinach beds. When the colander’s full I make my way back in, and turn on the oven while I start chopping garlic and onions, chard, and spinach. By the time the sun goes down, the house fills up with the scent of pastry and herbs, rich cheese and greens, and something like spring wafts out of the oven.

It’s the sign of warmer weather I look forward to the most.

The Right Idea

The Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies

The hours pass, the sky slides from sunny to grey, and the boat rocks as southwest winds whip across Cape Cod Bay. It’s late February, and Dr. Charles “Stormy” Mayo and his six-person crew from the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies are on their fourth right whale research cruise of the season aboard a 42-foot Jarvis Newman lobster boat. It’s been hours since they’ve seen their last split-second glimpse of a whale—a massive Y-shaped tail curling as the behemoth dives beneath the surface.

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Net Perfection

Erika Wastrom

For fishermen, there’s a magical tide that washes over Cape Cod and the Islands every year. The temperature notches up, and fish of all varieties rush into the warmer waters in bays, estuaries, and rivers around the Cape. There are cod, fluke, flounder, black sea bass, tautog, scup, and bluefish—and those are just some of the edible saltwater varieties—that swim in the waters around Cape Cod. But for thousands of anglers, the ultimate is the striped bass.

The pilgrims served it at the first Thanksgiving. Today, the striped bass is the most coveted recreational fish in the Commonwealth. “A striper can thrill an 8-year-old by eating a sandworm fished from a harbor jetty,” says Kevin Blinkoff, editor of the New England fishing magazine On The Water, “and do the same to an Orvis-clad adult by turning its nose up at a perfectly presented crab fly.”

Stripers, he says, “make you feel like nature has created a perfect fish, just for you.” Read more…

Growing Green Hands

Susan Spencer Read more…

His Heaven on Earth

Frank Foster

Paul Miskovsky has planted a garden on a cliff, set another on an island in a pond, and created several under the vast roof of the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston. But of his many horticultural designs, there may be none more enchanting than that which surrounds his own Falmouth home. Read more…

Woodland Wonder

Terry Pommett 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.”

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Coming Up Roses

Terry Pommett

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…

Great Gardens

Spohr Gardens enchants visitors all year long

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Tool Talk

Gardens 2011 Garden Art
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…