The Humble Innkeepers’ Garden

Cape Cod Herb Garden Basil

By Pat O’Connell

Photography By Pat O’Connell

Cape Cod Herb Garden Basil
This past year I chose some miniature basil along with some more traditional verities.

There are many locations on the Palmer House Inn’s property where I enjoy spending time, however, without a doubt, our herb garden is my favorite. When we first bought the inn the basic design of the garden had been laid out. There were eight four by four foot plots that had been outlined with cobblestones by the previous owner.  Some of them had been planted with perennials that were well established. There also were two rectangular granite posts at the entrance. However, the entire garden had been neglected for several years. It just looked like a large tangle of leaves and stems. I was not sure where to begin but over the years with lots of trial and error, the design has evolved. I have been to lectures and done some reading and had advice from knowledgeable friends and guests.

The choice of the name for the garden goes back to a time when I had the opportunity to travel in China with one of our daughters. One of the most beautiful places we visited was “The Humble Administrator’s Garden”. It is located in the city of Suzhou and is a miniature garden. It is said to be one of the most beautiful gardens in China. I decided to name our garden in memory of that wonderful trip.

 


Cape Cod's Stowe Room, A
Harriet Beecher Stowe room
Cape Cod's Emily Dickinson Room Five
Cape Cod’s Emily Dickinson Room Five

While all of our guest rooms have their own charm suitable for relaxation after the most wonderful day exploring the workshops of our Cape Cod craftsmen, we recommend the Harriet Beecher Stowe room, the Theodore Roosevelt room or the Emily Dickinson room. These rooms feature comfortable king beds, fireplaces, jacuzzi-style tubs and a relaxing stay before and after your day.

The She Shed

She Shed
She Shed
The Palmer House Inn’s She Shed.

This spring I was introduced to the new concept of the “She Shed” by Patti Keating a horticulturist from Cape Cod Community College. Patti came to help me with our Falmouth Village Spring Garden Tour. After talking with her, I decided that the Palmer House Inn should have its own version of the She Shed. Traditionally the garden shed has been a man’s retreat. This is the place where the lawnmowers and hedge clippers were stored and maintained. However, recently women have been coming up with their own version.

She Shed Search
She Shed Search

I did a little research to rev my creative juices. The first example that I found was, a Shabby Chic retreat with Limoges china, a crystal chandelier, over stuffed furniture and billows of tissue paper garland. The second was a tiny plant sanctuary. It was a small greenhouse filled with plants both inside and out. To complete the quaint atmosphere it was surrounded with a white picket fence to keep Peter Cotton Tale away from the tender, delicious  herbs. Number three, was a backyard potter’s paradise. It had a potter’s wheel, kiln, shelving for her glazes and cooling racks.  Another woman transformed her shed into an inviting craft nook with all of her supplies and even an overhead fan to keep her cool on warm afternoons. Still another gal designed a 1950’s style mini diner, complete with a red and white leatherette booth and a black and white checkerboard floor. It had a working juke box, popcorn maker, vintage radio, retro refrigerator and chrome stools in front of the tiny lunch counter. Another “she shed” was a writer’s sanctuary. This one had to be my favorite because it was surrounded with colorful flowers and comfortable garden furniture that was positioned in shady spots. Inside was a pretty desk and charming lamp. In the corner was an inviting chair with an afghan. What a delightful place to sit, read and reflect. Another shed was a woman’s yoga studio. It had a small dish style waterfall, wind chimes in the doorway, soft calming color tones on the walls and a single Chinese print. An English “she shed” that intrigued me had a thatched roof and a brick walkway.  The creator made it into a place where she could meet, have tea and chat with friends. One of the sheds was created at the beach and is a delight to behold, with double glass doors that look out onto the beach and water beyond. It had a comfortable bed and Adirondack chairs on the outside deck.  Many of the others were simply quiet retreats away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

During my research, I also discovered that sheds are becoming the newest trend in home based businesses. Because of the development of more compact computers, there is no longer the need for bulky file cabinets and phone systems,  so much more can fit into a compact space.

She Shed in snow
Our She Shed in the snow.

The Palmer House shed is a pretty little salt box style cedar shingled house at the back of my herb garden. I have a pretty flower box under its window and the door is painted red to match the other exterior doors on the Palmer House Inn’s property. However, it still houses the tools and chemicals that are necessary to maintain our 3/4 of an acre in Falmouth Village. Some of my most pleasant memories are of the times I have spent tending our gardens and working in and around my she shed.


Cape Cod's Stowe Room, A
Harriet Beecher Stowe room
Cape Cod's Roosevelt Room, B
Cape Cod’s Roosevelt Room, B

While all of the bedchambers at the Palmer House have their own romantic charm suitable for relaxation after the most wonderful day of adventures sampling Cape Cod cuisine, we recommend the Harriet Beecher Stowe room, the Theodore Roosevelt room or the Emily Dickinson room. These rooms feature comfortable king beds, fireplaces, jacuzzi-style tubs for a relaxing stay before and after your day.

Cape Cod’s Hydrangea Festival 2016

Hydrangea in front of the Palmer House Inn.

From July 8th through 17th the upper Cape Cod towns will be celebrating hydrangeas.

All colors and shapes. A full schedule can be found here.

Cape Cod Hydrangea
Hydrangea

Here is a sampling of the planned activities and events on the upper Cape:

On July 9th at 1:00 pm, author Joan Harrison will be talking about her  book , “Heavenly Hydrangeas”, at Heritage Museums and Gardens in Sandwich.  She will be talking about the tricks and giving tips about growing hydrangeas. Joan will take her guests on a one hour walk through the gardens. The event will include a book signing. For more information Call: 508-833-3300 ext. 130

Cape Cod Hydrangeas on the Porch for Breakfast
The porch before breakfast

On July 9th, 14th and 16th the hydrangea test garden at Heritage Museum and Gardens in Sandwich will be open at 10:00 am. The goal of the garden is to create the most complete hydrangea collection in the United States. For more information call:  508-833-3300 ext. 130

On July 9th, 11th, and 15th Heritage Museums and Gardens in Sandwich will be hosting, “Hydrangea Care Walks” from 10-10:45 am. The basics of caring for and maintaining hydrangeas will be discussed by the Museums horticultural staff. Care, growing situations, watering, fertilizing and mulching will be the subjects of discussion. For more information call: 508-833-3300

On July 10th from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm Highfield Hall in Falmouth will be celebrating the Hydrangea Festival. There will be three talks and garden walks.  Mal Condon, who is the collector, propagator, grower, and nurturer at Hydrangea Farms,  will speak at 11:00 am. At noon, Terry Soars who is Highfield’s landscape director, will tell visitors what is new about hydrangeas as she leads participants on a garden walk. At 12:30 Anna Holmes will give a demonstration of flower arrangements using hydrangeas. Admission for all three talks is $10.00 and it includes a free felt dirt bag. Highfield is just a 10 minute walk from the Palmer House Inn.

On July 10th, 13th and 16th Heritage Museums and Gardens in Sandwich, will host a demonstration on hydrangea pruning from 1:00 to 1:45 pm.

Hydrangea in front of the Palmer House Inn.
Hydrangea in front of the Palmer House Inn.

On July 12th and 13th Falmouth Garden Club will hold “Villages in Bloom” from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Four private Falmouth gardens will be open for touring rain or shine. The Palmer House Inn’s gardens will be one of the gardens on this tour. The price is $5.00 per garden. The proceeds will benefit Falmouth Museums on the Green. Tickets can be purchased in advance by calling: 508-333-4016.

Also, on July 12th from 2:30 to 5;00 the Falmouth Art Center will present ” What is New in the World of Hydrangeas”. This program will include a slide presentation and a talk about the new dwarf varieties of hydrangea as well as general care. At the conclusion of the presentation there will be an opportunity for questions and answers. Admission is $5.00.

On July 15th and 16th Aptucxet Museum in Bourn will have a paint along demonstration from 3;00 to 4:00 pm. ” The Paint Your Own Hydrangea Event”, will include all of your supplies as well as refreshments. The cost is $25.00. For a reservation, call 508-563-7938. The museum is at 24 Aptucxet Road in Bourn.

Cape Cod Wedding Cake with Hydrangea
A recent Cape Cod cake for a Palmer House wedding.

On July 16th Joan Harrison, the founder of Cape Cod Hydrangea Society and author of “Hydrangeas: Cape Cod & the Islands” and “Heavenly Hydrangeas: A Practical Guide for the Home Gardener” , will share her knowledge of manipulating color, hydrangea breeding and growing in containers. The lecture is free at 10:00 am at Soares Garden Nursery, 1021 Sandwich Road in East Falmouth.

 


Cape Cod's Stowe Room, A
Harriet Beecher Stowe room
Cape Cod's Roosevelt Room, B
Cape Cod’s Roosevelt Room, B

While all of the bedchambers at the Palmer House have their own romantic charm suitable for relaxation after the most wonderful day of adventures exploring Cape Cod’s gardens, we recommend the Harriet Beecher Stowe room, the Theodore Roosevelt room or the Emily Dickinson room. These rooms feature comfortable king beds, fireplaces, jacuzzi-style tubs for a relaxing stay before and after your day.