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‘Seaview Secret Garden’ is Osterville’s Avalon

Osterville’s Seaview Secret Garden

Seaview Secret Garden | Gold winner • Excellence in Landscape/Garden Design | Photo by Dan Cutrona

A memorial garden provides a tranquil, hidden retreat filled with splendor

Just up the coast from Hyannis Port’s “Cape Cod Camelot,” a family has created a secret garden that would seem right at home in the story of England’s most famous legend.

Arthurian lore tells of The Once and Future King, as author T. H. White put it, who will one day return to restore peace and honor to the world. Based in Camelot, Arthur and his knights represented all that was good and just, and their names endure throughout Western civilization some 1,500 years after their storied reign. Less known, but still widely recognized, is the island of Avalon, which existed nearby but was hidden behind dense, magical mists. Within this Eden-like paradise, priestesses of Mother Earth forged the legendary sword Excalibur, which Arthur would famously draw from the stone. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, author Geoffrey of Monmouth first wrote of the garden isle in his 12th-century Historia regum Britanniae (c. 1136), where he details how King Arthur was, after suffering mortal injury, “carried thence to the isle of Avalon to be cured of his wounds.” In Vita Merlini, published 14 years later, Monmouth describes Avalon as “the island of apples … called fortunate.”

Like Avalon, Osterville’s Seaview Secret Garden has been artfully crafted to be nearly invisible from the outside world; appropriately, it inhabits a bucolic setting just like that of “Cape Cod Camelot,” the Kennedy Compound as it was known in its heyday. One could park along the garden’s north or south borders and remain oblivious to its location—not because of thick, enchanted fogs, but rather due to dense hydrangeas and native flora. No showy gate marks its entrance; instead a simple shell path leads through a patch of forest. A walker could easily pass by none the wiser. Beyond the proverbial mists, however, an exquisite garden awaits, replete with flowering bushes, herbs and vegetables, and, of course, apple trees.

The Secret Garden is a living memorial. Owner Michele Walker named it “Le Jardin des Deux Mamans” in honor of her mother and mother-in-law, both of whom had recently passed away when she created the garden. “My mother was French, so the name is in her honor,” Walker explains. “Both of our mothers loved gardens, gardening and vegetables.”

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