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Where Cape Legends Flower

17 garden clubs to celebrate famous Cape Codders in a
special event at Heritage Museums & Gardens 

“Black Sam” Bellamy. Jackie Kennedy. Iyannough. Edward Gorey. Ralph and Martha Cahoon. Cape Cod has long been a place that attracts legendary personalities. Artists, writers, style setters, explorers, and visionaries have long thrived on this quirky, raised fist of America introduced to the world by Henry David Thoreau in his 1800s classic, Cape Cod.  

In celebration of those Cape Codders—and of many like Thoreau who helped define this coastal outpost’s unique natural and communal character—a special flower show will be held this summer, July 28-30, at Sandwich’s Heritage Museums & Gardens. Called “Cape Legends” and sponsored by the Southeastern District of the Garden Club Federation of Massachusetts, the show will be held in Heritage’s Heald Center and adjacent Automobile Barn. The event is open to the public with museum admission.

17 area garden clubs will celebrate nearly 20 Cape Codders with more than 200 floral arrangements, educational displays, and dozens of horticultural specimens spanning the botanical gamut from Hydrangea arborescens to Zinnias

For 41 years, the Southeastern District has devoted endless time, energy, and enthusiasm to this annual event, which is created and managed by a committee of 25 garden club volunteers who spend an entire year working on the show.  

Dolores Ahern of Dennis, a long time member of the Garden Club of Hyannis, has been involved with the show since 1980. Ahern, who has chaired the Southeastern District show on multiple occasions and served on numerous show committees, says such dedication is worth the hours needed to make this large event successful year after year.

“There is nothing I don’t love about this show,” says Ahern, who ran a successful wedding/special event floral design business on the Cape for many years.  “In every show, the creative juices flow—the energy is just palpable. It is wonderful to be with folks who love this world of flower shows as much as I do.  Some of my closest friends, new and old are part of the blessings that have come into my life as a result of the flower show world.”

“The show started on the grass, in a tent without a floor at the Barnstable County Fairgrounds as part of the annual fair,” recalls Ahern, who also conducts workshops on floral design for clubs around New England. “The designs were often on unstable staging and subject to the vagaries of weather—it was often very hot, which could be tough on the plants and on the people!”  

Ahern notes that over the years the Southeastern District show, which has been held at Heritage since 2017, has evolved into one of the most sophisticated flower shows in the New England area. “Many of our design and horticulture exhibitors are among the most elite in the area,” she says. 

Supported by dozens of gardeners, floral designers, and educators from throughout the Federation, including experienced horticulture and design judges, attentive clerks, and friendly hostesses, Ahern and the flower show committee spend hours on countless details to organize and stage the event.

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