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Cape Cod’s gorgeous gardens

Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary

Photo by Kate Lowenstein

Ginther enthusiastically extols the expertise of the club’s members that are hosting unique events in their private gardens, stating, “Centerville’s Linda Courteau has spent years propagating perennials and shrubs, including hydrangeas. Carolyn Lane’s Osterville oceanfront property showcases the effort of a horticultural expert, who starts many annuals and vegetables from seedlings. Susan Dewey’s beautiful and historic Centerville property features well-established shrub and perennial gardens and a hoop house, where she grows organic vegetables and flowers year-round.”

Hydrangeas thrive in coastal habitats, and Carolyn Lane’s stunning property, located on Osterville’s scenic West Bay, is a big attraction, with well-established and perfectly maintained border gardens overflowing with hydrangeas, roses and perennials. Longtime club member Lane—who says her favorite hydrangea is the diminutive, white ‘Little Lime’—has been lovingly tending her gardens for more than 50 years.

Lane, a true “hands in the dirt” gardener, starts many of her plants for her flower gardens from seed, relying on knowledge she gained as a young girl growing up on her family’s farm in Natick. “I just love starting plants from tiny seeds, taking care of each seedling in my greenhouse, planting it and watching it grow outside,” says Lane, who also shares her wealth of knowledge with budding garden club members in annual catalog research and seed-starting workshops.

A former teacher, Lane says that even before seeds are started inside for spring planting, gardeners of all stripes should learn the importance of giving tiny seedlings the best nurturing environment possible by “building” premier soil, especially in Cape Cod’s sandy (and sometimes clay-ridden) environment.

“I can’t say enough how important good soil is, especially on the Cape,” says Lane, who believes in the “sheet composting” method—the practice of layering spent garden material and kitchen scraps through the winter months, resulting in perfectly composted matter in the spring—rather than the more labor-intensive technique where compost is turned in a large mixer. Lane laughs when she describes her attempt to use such a machine, admitting that her former husband, Andy, “actually got a hernia” trying to crank garden waste into black gold. “Now I just let Mother Nature do the work,” Lane says.

In every corner of this oceanfront property, in one of Osterville’s most celebrated neighborhoods, there are horticultural beauties, including soaring flowering and hardwood trees, lilacs, deutzia, azaleas, rhododendron, roses, and yes, hydrangeas—climbing, shrub, dwarf and more.

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