It may be the beaches and cooling sea breezes that draw people to Cape Cod in the summertime. But if visitors are garden lovers as well, they will find that locations which satisfy their gardening passions are as numerous as the Rosa rugosa plants on the shore.
I, like the beach rose, am awash-ashore on Cape Cod, and I have found the mostly sandy soil of the area as hospitable to out-of-control-plant-people as it is to the rugosa rose. Although the following is only fraction of the places of interest to a gardener, it will give plant lovers a good push down Cape Cod's garden path.
Shortly after crossing the Sagamore Bridge, a gardener can stop in at the Heritage Plantation in Sandwich. Formerly the estate of Charles O. Dexter, this 76-acre parcel of land has, for example, a daylily garden,
a perennial garden, many large specimen trees, and hundreds of Rhododendrons. Gardeners who are traveling with others who tolerate plants but are not interested in spending much time with them, will appreciate the various museum buildings and displays on the property. Send the friends or family members off to view the old cars or to ride the carousel while you write down the names of the Hostas that entrance you the most.
In addition to the display plantings, gardeners will want to inquire about special horticultural classes and programs, and stop at the plant shop for a living souvenir. The Heritage Plantation is located at Grove
and Pine Streets in Sandwich (508-888-1222).
Those vacationing in the Falmouth area, or heading to the Woods Hole ferry, will want to spend some time at Twigs on Rte. 28 in "downtown" Falmouth. A charming collection of outdoor ornaments, gifts, and
amusements are artfully displayed in this garden-style store (508-540-0767).
I am a mid-Cape gardener myself, and my best advice for visitors to this area is to have lunch or tea at Mrs. Wyatt's Tea Room in Osterville, pop into Margo's next door (not a garden store, but a colorful treat for the eyes and you are already parked right there, after all), and then head over to Hyannis Country Garden on West Main Street to visit me in the perennial section. Yes, I couldn't be more biased, but I do think that we have the best perennial selection on Cape Cod. Country Garden, 380 West Main Street, Hyannis (508-775-8703). Mrs. Wyatt's Tea Room, 875 Main St., Osterville (508-428-3272).
Moving past the mid-Cape, even those with a brown thumb will love a visit to the Cape Cod Lavender Farm in Harwich. If you go in mid-summer at harvest time, the sweet smell of lavender will greet you as you head up the drive. During the growing season several types of lavender plants are for sale, and no matter when you visit the gift shop will be filled with dried lavender products. The definition of
aroma-therapy...inhale deeply and call for directions (508-432-8977).
Once the floor of the car is filled with pots of herbs, you can use these plants as an excuse to shop for the perfect container to hold them, and The McLeod House on Route 6A in Brewster might have one waiting for you. Pat McLeod is a former flower-show judge who loves antiques, and her love of plants and fine design meet in her shop behind her house in Brewster. Many visitors get distracted by Pat's flower gardens, which are lushly planted and nicely ornamented (508- 896-2513).
Before leaving the outer Cape, plant lovers will want to stop in at Gaskills Garden Center in Provincetown, and Rock Spray Nursery in Truro. Gaskills gets bigger every year, and has a good selection of annuals and perennials, as well as some woody ornamentals. I happen to know that one of the co-owners is also an out-of-control-plant-person, so the place often sells varieties unavailable elsewhere. Rock Spray specializes in heaths and heather, and they have a great selection. With their help you can plant a heather garden which will have brilliant color (both flower and foliage) all year long. Gaskills, 43 Race Point Rd., Provincetown (508-487-4855). Rock Spray, 1 Depot Road, Truro (508-349-6769).
Happy garden "touristing" on the Cape!