Secret Garden

Cape Cod Home  /  Autumn 2023 / ,

Writer: Julie Craven Wagner

Garden enthusiasts Marcia and George Chapman have transformed a very ordinary backyard into an enchanting world of wonder. Pictured: hosta, spiraea, Japanese maple, Annabelle’ hydrangeaPhoto by Hannah Van Buren “It’s the largest half acre on Cape Cod,” George Chapman beams, with his inimitable blue eyes twinkling, in response to the question, “How big is your garden?” A meandering moment spent exploring the various rooms, destinations, moments and vignettes found in Chapman’s garden befuddles any understanding of geometry and mathematics, because it seems impossible that all of this could be accomplished in a mere 1/2 acre. Chapman, who along with his wife Marcia, has spent his life learning, sharing, explaining, executing and teaching everything about gardening, is the landscape director at Highfield Hall & Gardens in Falmouth. Their personal garden which embraces a modest home in East Falmouth greets visitors from the curbside, along the driveway, curls around behind the detached garage and beckons visitors into each remote corner, and back to the center again. The use of paths, and pauses are two of the elements that make the garden so beguiling.  First the paths; Chapman says the shape his garden takes is never a straight line—like life. Instead, it is an undulating, evolving journey that encounters obstacles, reasons to reflect and enticement to venture forward. “The goal 40 years ago—I was convinced we didn’t have enough space—so I wanted to use every square foot and that drove the design of the garden,” he explains. “The first thing I did was put the center walk in and it ended in a circular bed. So that was awkward. I would come out in the morning with a cup of coffee and I would stand in the circle and I would say to myself, ‘I want to get the most out of this property, so…

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Julie Craven Wagner

Julie Craven Wagner began her experience with Cape Cod Life in 2010 when she joined the sales team after 10 years of working with local businesses on the Cape and Islands with WMVY. In addition to sales, she is the Associate Publisher/Editor of Cape Cod LIFE, Cape Cod HOME, and Cape Cod ART. Growing up on the Outer Cape has given her a unique perspective of life on Cape Cod, from tip to bridge, and that is reflected in her appreciation and presentation of stories found within the pages of our publications. Julie lives in North Falmouth with her husband, Eric, and their yellow lab, Enzo. When she finds free time, she enjoys her Cape Cod life sailing on Buzzards Bay, spending time on the beach in Wellfleet, or exploring Martha’s Vineyard.