A preview of the Cape Cod Hydrangea Festival July 7-17

This is going to be a colorful celebration | Cape Cod HOME Summer 2016

Imagine being able to peek behind fences and stroll though private gardens that are normally closed to the public. Envision flowerbeds in full bloom, vegetable gardens overflowing with organic produce, and mature landscapes that retain the best of “old Cape Cod.” Or, picture touring through creative combinations of plants, garden ornaments, and restful outdoor living spaces.

Cape Cod residents and visitors can enjoy these experiences and more during the second annual Cape Cod Hydrangea Festival in July. The festivities commence with a kickoff party on Thursday, July 7, and run though the final garden tours on Sunday, July 17. Organized under the umbrella of the Cape’s signature plant, the blue Hydrangea, the annual festival celebrates flowers and Cape gardens while benefiting local businesses and non-profits. This year more than 90 gardens will be open for public viewing across Cape Cod along with related exhibits and educational events.

Although blue Hydrangeas have given this festival their name and logo image, the private gardens on the tour contain an assortment of plants and garden styles. For example, strolling through George & Marcia Chapman’s garden in East Falmouth, visitors will see what two horticultural professionals have created with hundreds of different shrubs, perennials, and trees.

“Visitors who come to our gardens will discover a variety of densely planted areas that are linked by paths and archways,” Marcia Chapman says. “They  will see secluded garden spaces, vistas, and focal point plants.”

Several gardens on the tour will showcase ideas for working with specific situations. Marjorie Harvey’s garden in Mashpee is a wonderful example of how a small lot and a new landscape can be transformed quickly through the lush use of plants.

While Harvey established her charming gardens around a new house, Tilda Bystrom’s property in Chatham was planted years ago by the home’s previous owners, who worked at Heritage Museums and Gardens. Visitors to the Bystrom garden can see original Rhododendrons in restored and expanded beds, and learn how older, established plantings can be enhanced and refurbished.

Flowering perennials are the focus of another garden, which is designed and maintained by Jennifer Floyd of Crocker Nurseries in Brewster. “The Levis family’s Yarmouth Port garden is a woodland setting with a sweet cottage garden,” says Floyd. “It’s a fairly low-maintenance landscape with no lawn.”

Floyd describes this property as having a magical quality. “The cottage garden is a colorful array of tall garden Phlox, and perennials that flower summer to fall,” she says. “While working there I always feel that if fairies are real, they would live in this garden! Perhaps this is aided by the whimsical touches the owner has added. It’s truly a wooded oasis.”

Visitors to Bob King’s garden in Sandwich will have the opportunity to see a wide variety of flowers, vegetable plants, and more. “There’s a lot going on,” says King. “I have a garden that is much like an English cottage garden. It’s very crowded, eclectic, and colorful with many perennials, dahlias, and a great many annuals mixed in to provide summer-long color. There is a fairy garden, asparagus patch, raspberries, and a salad garden.”

John Sullivan’s garden in Dennisport also has full, exuberant flowerbeds; his are planted around beautiful ponds. “My gardens started by accident,” Sullivan recalls. “Our property was covered by large shade trees, but Hurricane Bob in 1991 changed all that. By the time the downed trees were cleared and stumps pulled, the yard looked like the dark side of the moon.”