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Cape Cod Floral Splendor

Have you ever noticed that flowers look gayer on the Cape than they do on the mainland? They seem to possess a sparkle and color more vivid than flowers unfortunate enough to grow elsewhere.

This is not all fancy for the Cape has a cooler summer and a warmer winter than the mainland, and the chemistry of its soil is such that southern Mediterranean plants thrive here. Furthermore, seeds washed ashore from shipwrecks have been known to take root on the fertile and surprising Cape Cod soil.

Oldtime Cape Cod gardens were offshoots of the European and English kitchen garden. John Josselyn in 1672 described one of the New World gardens. In them were “good store of garden vegetables and herbs, lettuce, sorrel, parsley, mallows, chevril, summer savory, winter savory, thyme, sage, carrots, parsnips, beets, radishes, purslain, beans, cabbage growing exceeding well; peas of all sorts and the best in the world.”

The old-fashioned Cape Cod gardens, however, possessed more than vegetables. There were useful herbs for cookery, for medicinal purposes and poultices. There was mint, sage, bee balm, dill, coriander, lavender, santolina, savory, sweet basil, fennel, tarragon, and about eight different kinds of thyme.

Old Cape Codders grew flowers too. Flowers could be practical as well as pretty, such as nasturtiums which were used for pickling and cooking, and marigolds for tea. In the old gardens grew a pleasant tangle of currant and gooseberry bushes, candytuft, sweet peas, blue-eyed grass, sweet alyssum, Johnny-jump-ups, daffodils, pinks, marigolds, bouncing Bet, and hollyhocks.

These old fashioned gardens were not formalized. They grew up in a cozy, carefree pattern as comfortable as the Cape Cod landscape.

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Cape Cod
Posted by Cape Cod - (website) on 07/10/06
Categories: Nature
Keywords: nature


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