Category Archives: Gardening by the Sea

Brookside Farm, CAPE COD HOME

Brookside Farm is a place one can easily fall in love with.  I had been warned of its bucolic charms -- a pair of Red Devon oxen and a handful of horses grazing in meadows dotted with white drifts of wildflowers, a pasture flowing downhill to a dark mysterious pond fed by the Tiasquam River, and a beautiful house and outbuildings graceful with history.

Brookside Farm is a place one can easily fall in love with. I had been warned of its bucolic charms — a pair of Red Devon oxen and a handful of horses grazing in meadows dotted with white drifts of wildflowers, a pasture flowing downhill to a dark mysterious pond fed by the Tiasquam River, and a beautiful house and outbuildings graceful with history.

I had come to see the gardens and was met by Maria Sercander, who has been working Brookside’s gardens for 11 years. Hilary Blocksam, Brookside’s landscape and architectural design director, farm manager, and all around chess partner told me how the current owners, Wendy Gimbel, a writer, and her husband, attorney Douglas Liebhafsky succumbed to the charms of Brookside Farm when they first saw it in the winter of 1981.

I had come to see the gardens and was met by Maria Sercander, who has been working Brookside’s gardens for 11 years. Hilary Blocksam, Brookside’s landscape and architectural design director, farm manager, and all around chess partner told me how the current owners, Wendy Gimbel, a writer, and her husband, attorney Douglas Liebhafsky succumbed to the charms of Brookside Farm when they first saw it in the winter of 1981.

Maria propagates many of the annuals used in Brookside’s gardens.  Sometimes she buys from local nurseries and recently she has been bringing in one of her favorite annuals, lisianthus, from Johnny’s Selected Seeds.

Maria propagates many of the annuals used in Brookside’s gardens. Sometimes she buys from local nurseries and recently she has been bringing in one of her favorite annuals, lisianthus, from Johnny’s Selected Seeds.

When you ask Maria what her favorite plants are she answers right away, “allium” and pauses “trillium” and then she gushes, “I love the paeonias, we have a lot of doubles, an old, old variety, a light pink with a white center.  We have a lot of “dinner plate” hibiscus, a deep maroon and a bright pink.  They are gorgeous.  What else do I love?” She laughs, “Oh, I love everything.  I adore lupines, snapdragons, cosmos.”

When you ask Maria what her favorite plants are she answers right away, “allium” and pauses “trillium” and then she gushes, “I love the paeonias, we have a lot of doubles, an old, old variety, a light pink with a white center. We have a lot of “dinner plate” hibiscus, a deep maroon and a bright pink. They are gorgeous. What else do I love?” She laughs, “Oh, I love everything. I adore lupines, snapdragons, cosmos.”

Ruth Kirchmeier, Carved by Nature, CAPE COD HOME

Ruth Kirchmeier, Martha's Vineyard woodcut artist and gardenerWhen I met Ruth Kirchmeier I didn’t know she was a woodcut artist but thought  she must be a sculptor of tall columnar things, her garden suggested so with upright narrow hollies and yews. I imagined her hands chipping away at stout totems of wood.  I had the medium right but the art form wrong, instead of totems she chips away at flat fields of pine, cutting into wood visual scenes close to her life such as a simple vignette of her dining room where a forsythia filled vase placed on a red runner radiates with the sun’s energy.

Ruth Kirchmeier, Martha’s Vineyard woodcut artist and gardener
When I met Ruth Kirchmeier I didn’t know she was a woodcut artist but thought she must be a sculptor of tall columnar things, her garden suggested so with upright narrow hollies and yews. I imagined her hands chipping away at stout totems of wood. I had the medium right but the art form wrong, instead of totems she chips away at flat fields of pine, cutting into wood visual scenes close to her life such as a simple vignette of her dining room where a forsythia filled vase placed on a red runner radiates with the sun’s energy.

“I don’t see the difference between making a woodcut and making a garden, you need the skills to cut the wood and make a garden , the same things go into it, placing things so that there is depth and interest and a certain desire to go around the corner and see what’s happening.

“I don’t see the difference between making a woodcut and making a garden, you need the skills to cut the wood and make a garden , the same things go into it, placing things so that there is depth and interest and a certain desire to go around the corner and see what’s happening.

NEG CCH Kirshmeier 3

House plants are welcome winter friends finding places to reside outside come summer.  A topiaried myrtle came to Ruth by way of her dealer, Hermine.  “She has a small gallery nearby, Hermine Merel Smith Fine Art, one winter she asked me to look after her myrtle and I nurtured it and shaped it.  When I brought it back, she asked if I wouldn’t like to keep it permanently.

House plants are welcome winter friends finding places to reside outside come summer. A topiaried myrtle came to Ruth by way of her dealer, Hermine. “She has a small gallery nearby, Hermine Merel Smith Fine Art, one winter she asked me to look after her myrtle and I nurtured it and shaped it. When I brought it back, she asked if I wouldn’t like to keep it permanently.

 

 

Island Garden, OLD HOUSE JOURNAL’S NEW OLD HOUSE

In the Gulf of Maine, where sky meets sea, lie the Isles of Shoals, haunted with graves of Spanish sailors and tales of pirate gold.  The islands have names that give them shape -- Smutty Nose, Duck, Hog, and White (an acre of stone topped at the pinnacle with light).  Poet Celia Laighton Thaxter's life on Appledore Island inspired her writing and her lifelong connection to the island's terrain.  Her flower garden, celebrated in her book An Island Garden, drew visitors to the island until a fire destroyed the property.  A century after she started her garden, John Kingsbury of Cornell University and a team of volunteers found the remnants of her sanctuary and re-created her summer garden, a floral oasis in the rough, wind-whipped terrain.

In the Gulf of Maine, where sky meets sea, lie the Isles of Shoals, haunted with graves of Spanish sailors and tales of pirate gold. The islands have names that give them shape — Smutty Nose, Duck, Hog, and White (an acre of stone topped at the pinnacle with light). Poet Celia Laighton Thaxter’s life on Appledore Island inspired her writing and her lifelong connection to the island’s terrain. Her flower garden, celebrated in her book An Island Garden, drew visitors to the island until a fire destroyed the property. A century after she started her garden, John Kingsbury of Cornell University and a team of volunteers found the remnants of her sanctuary and re-created her summer garden, a floral oasis in the rough, wind-whipped terrain.

Celia Thaxter's century-old garden on Appledore Island is gaining new life through the dedication of volunteers and the interest of visitors.  The summer tours are almost always sold out and the education and family programs at the Shoals Marine Laboratory are popular.

Celia Thaxter’s century-old garden on Appledore Island is gaining new life through the dedication of volunteers and the interest of visitors. The summer tours are almost always sold out and the education and family programs at the Shoals Marine Laboratory are popular.

Movement in the Garden, CAPE COD HOME

Peggy and Bob Black's Chatham garden began with a single rose bush whose thick, aged canes wind up the tall textured green of an enclosing privet hedge. The pink roses bloomed profusely, but the bush grew in an almost empty garden.  "I think the old pink rose is probably Dorothy Perkins," says Peggy.  "I am sure it set the tone of what was to follow."

Peggy and Bob Black’s Chatham garden began with a single rose bush whose thick, aged canes wind up the tall textured green of an enclosing privet hedge. The pink roses bloomed profusely, but the bush grew in an almost empty garden. “I think the old pink rose is probably Dorothy Perkins,” says Peggy. “I am sure it set the tone of what was to follow.”

Finding all-day sun where the old rose resides, the homeowners enclosed the lawn on the ocean side planting a secondary hedge of privet to protect a new brood of perennials from cold winter gusts and wind-born salt spray.

Finding all-day sun where the old rose resides, the homeowners enclosed the lawn on the ocean side planting a secondary hedge of privet to protect a new brood of perennials from cold winter gusts and wind-born salt spray.

Peggy has a knack for elegant ladylike combinations of pink and white with a touch of blue or a splash of yellow to spark the overall effect.  When asked about her color scheme she answers that she and Bob often sit at the edge of the garden under the pergola.  “Because the color is so close to where we sit, I decided on a cooler color scheme rather than a hot one.”  Peggy admits ‘Dorothy Perkins’ was an impetus for  pastel colors and more roses.

Peggy has a knack for elegant ladylike combinations of pink and white with a touch of blue or a splash of yellow to spark the overall effect. When asked about her color scheme she answers that she and Bob often sit at the edge of the garden under the pergola. “Because the color is so close to where we sit, I decided on a cooler color scheme rather than a hot one.” Peggy admits ‘Dorothy Perkins’ was an impetus for pastel colors and more roses.

Peggy’s green thumb has had training.  She enrolled in the master gardener program through University of Massachusetts Cooperative Extension Service in Barnstable and found it indispensable.  “I got so much out of it, I wasn’t ready to quit ... that’s when I went to The Landscape Institute (of the Arnold Arboretum in Boston)” where she earned a Certificate in Landscape Design and gained knowledge in garden history and design, site engineering and construction, and the possible uses for many, many plants.

Peggy’s green thumb has had training. She enrolled in the master gardener program through University of Massachusetts Cooperative Extension Service in Barnstable and found it indispensable. “I got so much out of it, I wasn’t ready to quit … that’s when I went to The Landscape Institute (of the Arnold Arboretum in Boston)” where she earned a Certificate in Landscape Design and gained knowledge in garden history and design, site engineering and construction, and the possible uses for many, many plants.

HELPFUL LINKS:

Cape Cod Cooperative Extension Service/UMass 

http://www.capecodextension.org/Horticulture/

Cape Cod Home

http://www.capecodlife.com/capecodhome

The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, The Landscape Institute

http://www.arboretum.harvard.edu

Kitchen Garden, CAPE COD HOME

The Nantucket Historical Association's Oldest House may be a seventeenth-century jewel of antiquity, but the sweet kitchen garden at the 1686 Jethro Coffin saltbox is the apple of my eye.

The Nantucket Historical Association’s Oldest House may be a seventeenth-century jewel of antiquity, but the sweet kitchen garden at the 1686 Jethro Coffin saltbox is the apple of my eye.

Kathrina Pearl, a Nantucket Historical Association (NHA) staff member and avid gardener, and the NHA grounds crew have adopted the backyard at the Oldest House, planting a long list of period pot plants, culinary and medicinal herbs, a small orchard of fruit trees, and some berries.  "The idea for the garden came from the interpreters at the site," says Pearl.

Kathrina Pearl, a Nantucket Historical Association (NHA) staff member and avid gardener, and the NHA grounds crew have adopted the backyard at the Oldest House, planting a long list of period pot plants, culinary and medicinal herbs, a small orchard of fruit trees, and some berries. “The idea for the garden came from the interpreters at the site,” says Pearl.

The Oldest House nestles into the landscape at the top of Sunset Hill.  It was built as a wedding gift for Jethro Coffin and his new bride, Mary.  According to the NHA, it is the "sole surviving structure from the island's original seventeenth-century English settlement."

The Oldest House nestles into the landscape at the top of Sunset Hill. It was built as a wedding gift for Jethro Coffin and his new bride, Mary. According to the NHA, it is the “sole surviving structure from the island’s original seventeenth-century English settlement.”

http://www.capecodlife.com/capecodhome

Companion Planting, CAPE COD HOME

The hillside garden at Satucket Farm Stand in Brewster, Massachusetts bursts with blossoms.  “I love the textures of greens in spring,” says Anita Anderson.   “I love Solomon’s Seal and Lily of the Valley, they smell so nice.”  Other spring favorites include daffodils, tulips, Bleeding Heart, and Jacob’s Ladder.   Summer brings on a riot of color.  “Monarda, oh my goodness, the red, a bright red.  I have a deep purple butterfly bush, sedum autumn joy, tons of veronica, a blue balloon flower, astilbe in white and pink and red.”

The hillside garden at Satucket Farm Stand in Brewster, Massachusetts bursts with blossoms. “I love the textures of greens in spring,” says Anita Anderson. “I love Solomon’s Seal and Lily of the Valley, they smell so nice.” Other spring favorites include daffodils, tulips, Bleeding Heart, and Jacob’s Ladder. Summer brings on a riot of color. “Monarda, oh my goodness, the red, a bright red. I have a deep purple butterfly bush, sedum autumn joy, tons of veronica, a blue balloon flower, astilbe in white and pink and red.”

Satucket’s cutting bed  is exuberantly wild with cosmos, sunflowers, cleome, and zinnias all vying for attention.  Anita has nurtured these plants from seed, starting them under lights in her basement the last months of winter.  “During February I go nuts and have to mail order seeds.  I really like Johnny’s Selected Seeds, their flowers seem stronger, healthier than any other supplier I have tried.”

Satucket’s cutting bed is exuberantly wild with cosmos, sunflowers, cleome, and zinnias all vying for attention. Anita has nurtured these plants from seed, starting them under lights in her basement the last months of winter. “During February I go nuts and have to mail order seeds. I really like Johnny’s Selected Seeds, their flowers seem stronger, healthier than any other supplier I have tried.”

Another favorite vendor is a local Orleans grower, The Farm.  “They do an amazing job.  They grow their own perennials and have great stock.”

Another favorite vendor is a local Orleans grower, The Farm. “They do an amazing job. They grow their own perennials and have great stock.”

A stand of sunflowers painted on the barn door was a Mothers’ Day gift.  “The kids asked me what I wanted for Mothers’ Day and that’s what I wanted.  I didn’t need fresh flowers, I didn’t need food.”  Although her kids are absent, she now has their constant presence in the form of sunny flowers on the door.<br /><br /><br /><br />

A stand of sunflowers painted on the barn door was a Mothers’ Day gift. “The kids asked me what I wanted for Mothers’ Day and that’s what I wanted. I didn’t need fresh flowers, I didn’t need food.” Although her kids are absent, she now has their constant presence in the form of sunny flowers on the door.

Golden Earthworm, GARDENS ILLUSTRATED

Photographing Golden Earthworm  was a visual delight.  The organic farm, located on the North Fork of Long Island, grows mouthwatering veg and a vibrant display of cutting flowers.

Photographing Golden Earthworm was a visual delight. The organic farm, located on the North Fork of Long Island, grows mouthwatering veg and a vibrant display of cutting flowers.

Maggie Wood, Matthew Kurek, and James Russo were a treat to work with and made sure I had access to all parts of the farm -- from riding out to the fields with an incredibly cheerful, hardworking Mexican family to watching the careful processing and packing of the CSA shares.

Maggie Wood, Matthew Kurek, and James Russo were a treat to work with and made sure I had access to all parts of the farm — from riding out to the fields with an incredibly cheerful, hardworking Mexican family to watching the careful processing and packing of the CSA shares.

Maggie Wood and I put together a lunch of Golden Earthworm's fingerling potatoes roasted in garlic and olive oil and a colorful salad of just picked tomatoes with a sprinkling of fresh picked herbs.

Maggie Wood and I put together a lunch of Golden Earthworm’s fingerling potatoes roasted in garlic and olive oil and a colorful salad of just picked tomatoes with a sprinkling of fresh picked herbs.

http://www.goldenearthworm.com

http://www.gardensillustrated.com

Sharing the Harvest by Elizabeth Henderson and Robyn Van En, Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 2007