Tag 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.

 

 

More than Summer Friends, CAPE COD HOME

Favorite flowers for a Cape Cod garden include hardy roses, Guara, and 'Cotton Candy' Supertunias.

Favorite flowers for a Cape Cod garden include hardy roses, Guara, and ‘Cotton Candy’ Supertunias.

To my Puritan New England eye, coleus has a always been a bit too exotic -- red-dressed flamenco dancers edged in flames of green and white.  Looking up the Latin name I came across another common name, Flame Nettle, and indeed, these are "hot" plants.

To my Puritan New England eye, coleus has a always been a bit too exotic — red-dressed flamenco dancers edged in flames of green and white. Looking up the Latin name I came across another common name, Flame Nettle, and indeed, these are “hot” plants.

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.

Winter Interest, CAPE COD HOME

Let's face it.  Cape Cod can get downright gloomy in the winter months.  Gray sky, gray ocean, even marsh grasses in mellow shades of rust and yellow moving merrily in the wind are soon beaten down by snow and rain.  What's a sun-loving, home-owning gardener to do?  Plant and sculpt with winter interest in mind.

Let’s face it. Cape Cod can get downright gloomy in the winter months. Gray sky, gray ocean, even marsh grasses in mellow shades of rust and yellow moving merrily in the wind are soon beaten down by snow and rain. What’s a sun-loving, home-owning gardener to do? Plant and sculpt with winter interest in mind.

Choose specimen trees with unusual bark such as the Japanese Trident maple, Acer buergeriannum, with peeling bark offering up shades of gold, brown, and orange.  Another peeler is the paperbark maple, Acer griseum, in cinnamon shades.

Choose specimen trees with unusual bark such as the Japanese Trident maple, Acer buergeriannum, with peeling bark offering up shades of gold, brown, and orange. Another peeler is the paperbark maple, Acer griseum, in cinnamon shades.

Plant a textured border of mixed broadleaf and needled evergreens to catch the snow -- Juniperus (junipers) come in many shapes and sizes, from low and creeping to tall and columnar, and are painted in shades of pale blue-green to vivid gold.  They are a perfect evergreen for the Cape as they prefer sandy soil and tolerate salt spray.

Plant a textured border of mixed broadleaf and needled evergreens to catch the snow — Juniperus (junipers) come in many shapes and sizes, from low and creeping to tall and columnar, and are painted in shades of pale blue-green to vivid gold. They are a perfect evergreen for the Cape as they prefer sandy soil and tolerate salt spray.

Ornamental grasses and shrub dogwoods look wonderful against a green backdrop in the winter months.  Grasses such as Miscanthus sinensis will develop into a four-foot clump sending out beautiful inflorescence plumes in the fall.  It is the flowering seed head that is so attractive, catching the late afternoon light and creating a glow.


Ornamental grasses and shrub dogwoods look wonderful against a green backdrop in the winter months. Grasses such as Miscanthus sinensis will develop into a four-foot clump sending out beautiful inflorescence plumes in the fall. It is the flowering seed head that is so attractive, catching the late afternoon light and creating a glow.


Ornamental grasses and shrub dogwoods look wonderful against a green backdrop in the winter months. Grasses such as Miscanthus sinensis will develop into a four-foot clump sending out beautiful inflorescence plumes in the fall. It is the flowering seed head that is so attractive, catching the late afternoon light and creating a glow.

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

Truro Twilight, CAPE COD HOME

"You must come at dusk", was Truro author Maria Flook's invitation to her garden.   I didn't knock at first, delaying my arrival and taking in plantings as I strode from the car.  Casa Blanca lilies were in bloom, wildly fragrant, white and rising from ado where a statue of a lion lurked hidden in the gloom.


“You must come at dusk”, was Truro author Maria Flook’s invitation to her garden. I didn’t knock at first, delaying my arrival and taking in plantings as I strode from the car. Casa Blanca lilies were in bloom, wildly fragrant, white and rising from ado where a statue of a lion lurked hidden in the gloom.

Indeed, as we emerged onto a small brick terrace, silence overcame the space.  Table and chairs surrounded by a garden of mystery, a hush of plants in varying shades of soft green leaning into wine-soaked burgundy variegated ground covers, whites fringing the edges of green leaves….

Indeed, as we emerged onto a small brick terrace, silence overcame the space. Table and chairs surrounded by a garden of mystery, a hush of plants in varying shades of soft green leaning into wine-soaked burgundy variegated ground covers, whites fringing the edges of green leaves….

"I really like white in the garden," says Flook, yet she uses it discriminately, just a bit here or there to draw the eye out of dark shadow, to create a fragmented moment in the twilight of day.

“I really like white in the garden,” says Flook, yet she uses it discriminately, just a bit here or there to draw the eye out of dark shadow, to create a fragmented moment in the twilight of day.

"I really like white in the garden," says Flook, yet she uses it discriminately, just a bit here or there to draw the eye out of dark shadow, to create a fragmented moment in the twilight of day.

“I really like white in the garden,” says Flook, yet she uses it discriminately, just a bit here or there to draw the eye out of dark shadow, to create a fragmented moment in the twilight of day.

"A garden to me always meant this wonderful sense of fighting against death, fighting against all the struggles that you face in your life whether it be work troubles or family troubles.  If you can work a garden, you still had something, some power in the world…a bolster against the hard grim world.  It is a sign of health, a health of the self." Wonderful words of wisdom from writer and gardener Maria Flook.

“A garden to me always meant this wonderful sense of fighting against death, fighting against all the struggles that you face in your life whether it be work troubles or family troubles. If you can work a garden, you still had something, some power in the world…a bolster against the hard grim world. It is a sign of health, a health of the self.” Wonderful words of wisdom from writer and gardener Maria Flook.

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