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Where Cape Legends Flower

For those who are true hands-in-the-dirt gardeners—who know everything about a particular Hydrangea from each plant’s Latin name to its particular pruning requirements—the annual Southeastern District flower show offers a chance to share their own garden glories.

The Horticulture Division of the “Cape Legends” show will be held in the historic Automobile Barn at Heritage, a handsome stone structure housing a famous collection of vintage automobiles. Winding around the barn’s top balcony space, the horticultural specimens will include dozens of Hydrangeas from arborescens to quercifolia, herb gardens, displays of Cape-grown roses, coneflowers, lilies, and dahlias. There will be planters and dish gardens, hostas both tiny and huge, and delicate ferns.

“We happen to have a lot of great growers who can grow all kinds of interesting things,” says Falmouth’s Hila Lyman, a long time member of the Falmouth Garden Club, who has chaired the district flower show twice and has been involved in every aspect of the show’s management since 1996. “This show has really established a reputation over the years as being one of the top district shows in the state. We are noted for having really good design classes and also great horticulture, which is a real draw to people in and outside the district.”

Just as in the design and botanical arts divisions, a crew of horticulture division volunteers will be on hand to wash and stage hundreds of glass bottles needed for cut specimens, to explain to admiring visitors the arcane, but notable difference between an Oriental, or an Asiatic Lily, and to share growing hints to help Cape growers succeed in their own gardens at home.

Every morning before the show opens, a team of volunteers will carefully inspect each horticultural and design entry and those that are less than pristine will be replenished, or removed. Plants are watered, daylilies are deadheaded, and Hydrangeas misted. Designs are scrutinized for wilting blossoms, or shaky mechanics. When the show opens, visitors will admire the blue ribbon and major award winners and pick their own favorites—inevitably someone will say, “I just don’t get why the judges picked THAT design—I like the one with all the Hydrangeas and roses instead of that weird contemporary thing!”

Lyman notes that there are horticultural highlights every year in this show and unexpected plants and botanical specimens by Cape growers that delight show workers—and the public. “One year in the horticulture division we had what is known as a ‘challenge class,’ where we gave exhibitors packets of cherry tomato seeds ahead of time to grow and exhibit in the show,” says Lyman, whose garden in Falmouth is a wonderland of unusual perennials, vegetables, and flowering shrubs, carefully tended in raised beds. 

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