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A Timeless Retreat

Architect Bruce Miller restores an authentic Cape cabin in the woods of Wellfleet.

It’s not every day you come across a property that evokes a sense of charm and nostalgia for old Cape Cod. Read more…

Hydrangea Days

Pink, green, purple, white, red. Dwarf, tree, shrub, and climbing. Besides the classic blue beauties, there’s a hydrangea out there for every landscape.

Hydrangeas have long been loved as Cape Cod’s quintessential flower, ever since Martha Stewart shared her affection for the flowering shrub with the world in the 1980s. Read more…

Springtime Secrets

Four local naturalists share their favorite places to savor the arrival of spring.

Spring comes slowly to Cape Cod. Still, we know our surroundings are changing, waking up, and bursting with new life and activity.
Read more…

Natural Beauty

Get a healthy springtime glow with cape and islands skincare products.

You’ve seen the names: Sea buckthorn, rosehips, olive oil, quince. Botanical ingredients—flowers, herbs, oils, and other plant-derived essences—are captivating skincare clients with their natural properties, uncomplicated scents, and bottles without long lists of unpronounceable chemicals. Read more…

A Fresh Angle

With freshly stocked kettle ponds all across the Cape, there’s no time like the present to cast a line and get the first bite of the season.

The Cape’s waters are famous for saltwater fishing, from fighting ferocious blues in the surf to landing lunker stripers into the boat. But tucked behind curtains of pine trees in the Cape’s interior are waters that are equally rewarding for fishermen, although these quiet, often unknown places offer very different fishing from the open ocean. Read more…

Fabulous Foliage & Flower Power C.L. Fornari

When Cape Cod residents first plant their landscapes, many choose evergreen trees and shrubs believing that having foliage all year round is of prime importance. At some point, however, the realization sets in that their yard is a sea of green. Evergreens may have beautiful all-seasons foliage, but these monochromatic trees and shrubs don’t satisfy most humans’ innate desire for color. Read more…

Reap What You Sow

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

cc girlingearstudio

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
sdewey@capecodlife.com