The Palmer House’s Cape Cod Herb Garden
We are looking forward to some of the most beautiful gardens on Cape Cod this year (perhaps a little biased :).
To be honest I’m not really an expert but this is how we put our garden together. Hopefully you can find some useful information or at least some inspiration for your garden. Most of our garden planning is a year-round activity. Early each year we sit down with a property plan to map out the best use of light and space. The inn has several distinct garden locations. The first one we will focus on is the Humble Innkeeper’s Herb Garden.
Start by defining the requirements for the garden: This is the garden where many of the breakfast garnishes and ingredients are harvested. We also want it to be a peaceful place to rest, while being a functional organic garden.
- Next, determine the environmental conditions: What sort of light is available? How warm or cold does it tend to get? What are the soil conditions?
- This garden is in a small clearing that is surrounded by woods. This makes it a lovely place to watch birds and grey squirrels, or even hold a small wedding ceremony without it getting too hot, but it also means the plants on the edges are in shade much of the day.
- We are on Cape Cod, so we start our seeds indoors or buy them in the garden center and don’t put them into the ground or containers until after the last frost of the year, usually in early May.
- As for the soil conditions: you can get a test kit at our local garden shop to check for acidity.
Plan, plan, plan: I like to sit down on a chilly day in the winter with a pencil and paper. Then I sketch out how I want the garden to look. I also spend time researching plants requirements and how tall it will grow. Our herb garden is quite structured. There are 8 squares, each lined with locally sourced light grey granite cobblestones that are quite common to the region. One can walk around each square, therefore, we have arranged the plantings so that the tallest plant or centerpiece (bird bath, orb, statue,…) is in the center.
I refer back to our list of requirements (No. 1) to make sure that we have the plants we will need: This year we will have plenty of mint, chives, rosemary, oregano, golden sage and parsley for our breakfasts. We will also have hops and heather to add visual interest. Those herbs combined with the shiso, lemon balm and Egyptian onion should make for a beautiful garden of purples and green.
- The last step: We make sure the soil is ready. We start by mixing our organic compost into the soil. When we plant the seedlings we add organic (time released) fertilizer to each bed or container. We also add moisture absorbing pellets to the soil. We make sure that each container has a drain hole then we place packing peanuts in the bottom. Next, a layer of porous fabric, then the potting soil and the herbs. I make sure that the soil level is about 1/2 an inch from the rim of the pot so that when it is watered, the water does not run off. I like using containers because they are easy to move. I always place the “show-offs” at the entrance of the garden.
Then sit back and watch the show all summer.
While all of our rooms have their own individual charm suitable for relaxation after the most wonderful day of adventures or sitting in the garden, we recommend the Harriet Beecher Stowe room, the Theodore Roosevelt room or the Emily Dickinson room. These rooms feature comfortable king beds, fireplaces, jetted tubs and a relaxing stay before and after your day.