Helpful Cape Cod Gardening Tips

One thing that is problematic for me is working in the garden and getting dirt deep in my nails and cuticles.  No matter what gloves I use, dirt always seems to coat my hands.  Since I have guests arriving at all times, this garden soil can be a challenge.  So, I went looking for a tip on how to keep my fingers cleaner and came up with this article.

Not only is there a good solution to keeping fingers cleaned, there are 13 additional tips to make your gardening more enjoyable.  I particularly liked the tip to create perfectly natural markers, write the names of plants (using a permanent marker) on the flat faces of stones of various sizes and place them at or near the base of your plants. With a profusion of flowers and plants that have specific seasons, this is a great way to mark where things grow.

Hopefully, you are now out in the garden and enjoying the fruits of your labor.  The gardens here at the Sea Meadow Inn are coming along with tons of daffodils and hyacinth still in full blossom.  The hosta shoots are all growing through the mulch and a few are even showing some early leaves.  An even better sign that the growing season has begun is the budding of the traditional Cape Cod garden favorite – the hydrangeas.


The Cape Cod Garden

You’ve spent the time preparing your garden spaces, have a general idea of what it should look like, have admired that gorgeous garden down the street, and are now ready to plant.  The problem is knowing which plants and flowers will yield visual appeal, can grow in your conditions, and have a long “shelf life”.  There are many books out there that give you exceptional advice on garden design (many of which I have bought or read), but it still comes down to finding the right combination that will work well in your garden.

In my opinion, there are just three major garden “types”: formal, wild, and cottage.  Living on Cape Cod in a 1780s sea captain’s house, the only type that I envision is a cottage-style garden theme.  Researching the web over the past few months, I’ve actually found the Better Homes & Gardens website to be the most comprehensive and easiest way to plan my gardens.  The garden plans on the website are diagrammed, contain lists of the plants needed, and offer tips for care.  I highly recommend you bookmark the website and refer to it often as you plan, execute, and change your gardens.

easy care.jpg.rendition.p

One of the issues that needs to be considered in planning is color.  If you follow the plans at Better Homes & Gardens, they have coordinated the plants to be pleasing to the eye.  However, many of us also have established gardens that need a little more work rather than starting from scratch. This is when color schemes become important.  The worst mistake you can make in picking colors is to give yourself a visual migraine by incorporating too many different colors.  This doesn’t mean you have to have a single color scheme, though sometimes that works best, but don’t go overboard!

You might find the following article by Yvonne Cunnington to be of some help in deciding color schemes. Her blog post is easy to read and very informative.  Read more about color at Flower Gardening Made Easy


Check back on our blog to see how our gardens are coming along. We’ll be starting new gardens and working on established gardens throughout the year to maximize visual appeal.  

Cape Cod Spring

Spring is a special time of year on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. From food tastings to art shows to welcoming the local blooms, the arrival of the new season is celebrated in a number of creative and fun away across the region. To cure even the worst cases of spring fever or to plan a blissful weekend getaway, here’s a look at what’s ahead in April and May.600px-cape_cod_bay

On April 25, Nantucket Daffodil Festival, an island favorite, gets underway! This signature three-day event features the Antique Car Parade, a showcase of more than 100 vehicles embellished with vibrant daffodils. Also on tap: a Children’s Family Beach Picnic, a 5k, and plenty of attractions fit for the entire family.

And throughout May 9-11, Edgartown will host its 3rd Annual Pink & Green Weekend, a Mother’s Day celebration that promises to be a good time. The weekend features the famous Pink & Green Ball, the 2nd Annual Bartender’s Drink Contest, brunches, sales, and more.longpasture

On May 15th, savor the finest dishes from the best of Harwich’s restaurateurs, wineries and distilleries at this year’s Toast of Harwich. The event also includes a VIP Champagne toast, and a delicious preview of what you can expect on the menu this summer.

On May 17th-18th, the Cape Cod Art Association will host the Art in the Garden festival in Hyannis. You’re invited for a weekend of music, food, and family fun, plus demonstrations on how to get the most out of your garden and patio this spring.

And, don’t forget our own Wine Lover’s Weekend on May 16-18!

Thanks to


Cape Cod Gardening

Gardening on Cape Cod can be a challenge with sandy soil, salty winds, and a summers when rain is sparse. For these reasons, many homeowners fill their gardens with Hydrangea, ornamental grasses, and other hardy plants. In our gardens, we have also relied heavily on these plant stalwarts. While all are interesting and colorful in their respective seasons, we’ve decided that more color and interest is needed. But like all amateur gardeners, it has seemed to be a daunting task to create and maintain a new garden. So, with a little searching online, we found a great website that not only offers garden plans, but also tips on planting and maintaining these gardens.


At Better Homes & Gardens, you’ll find an easy-to-use garden planner divided into categories such as full sun, full shade, drought-resistant, and difficult soil conditions. With just a little time researching, you’ll quickly find a variety of garden plans to meet your needs. Each downloadable plan comes with tips on preparing the garden, planting, and maintaining your new garden. Unlike gardening books, many expensive, the website makes it easy to view and choose the garden plans that will bring years of enjoyment.

At the Inn, we have a number of garden areas in need of rejuvenation. One area is under the large maple tree in the backyard which is very shady in the summer. The other main areas that we’re going to tackle this year is at the front of the original house and the area near our sign facing Main Street, which get full sun from dawn to dusk. With the Better Homes & Gardens planner, we’ll be creating some beautiful spots for our guests to enjoy. Now all we need is some spring weather to be able to begin gardening!easy care.jpg.rendition.p


Preparations for a Cape Cod Spring

Spring is tomorrow, at least officially.  So, even if the weather isn’t cooperating at the moment, it is a good time to begin planning your gardens and yard.  We take on foundation plantings as our first post as these are always a focal point from the street or when visitors come.


Foundation plantings were originally used to hide the underbusiness of a house, much like a bed skirt hides a box spring.  They also acted as insulation-helping to keep the house warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Done well, they can serve to soften the look of the home in the landscape. Done badly, they can ugly things up, create mold problems, and damage your home. In the words of Atlanta Landscape Designer Tara Dillard, many foundation ”bushes are either leggy hags or green meatballs. ”

Personally, I’m not a fan  foundation plantings. Too often,  shrubs and trees are planted right next to the house and hacked back to keep them small-or worse- they are let go and just eat the house. If the front of your home is attractive, why hide it?  Here are 10 things to keep in mind if you must plant around your foundation:

  1. DO have a plan. It doesn’t have to be a formal plan, but have some idea of your goals before you begin. Dragging random things home from the nursery and plunking them in may not give you the result you want.
  2. Remember, the trees and shrubs in the nursery are BABIES. That is why they call it a nursery. Feed them and water them, and they will grow.. A lot. That cute little Rhododendron maximum  or Yew in the one gallon pot will eat your house in twenty years.
  3. Match the plants to the scale of your home. A few dwarf shrubs in front of a large Colonial will look silly, or just flat get lost..
  4. Keep large trees well away from your home and electrical wires to minimize storm damage. Have existing trees trimmed away from the house, if possible. Keep smaller, ornamental trees 10-15 feet away from the foundation.
  5. A few feet of gravel held in by steel edging will ease drainage, prevent damage, and allow room for painting, window washing and other maintenance chores around the foundation. Use the bottom of an extended ladder to determine the width of the gravel bed. Or expand  the gravel for a more open, courtyard effect. Functional and attractive.
  6. Consider the view from inside your home. What do you see from your windows? What do you want to see? Do you need more privacy?
  7. Keep plantings away from doors and entryways. This gives your home a more open, welcoming feeling. A few well placed containers will give you all the color you need.
  8. Avoid  blocking windows. Let the air and light in!
  9. Limit plant varieties. Use and repeat the same variety, or several varieties of  shrubs for a more unified look.
  10. If you must have hydrangeas near the house- (of course you must- on Cape Cod we love our hydrangeas) give them room to grow and be what they want to be. Or select some of the many new compact or dwarf varieties.

Get more great tips at

Truro Vineyards Wine Lover’s Weekend


Sample the unique flavor of Cape Cod wines with this special package highlighting Truro Vineyards and the Grand Cru Wine Bar. Price per couple: $400.00 (tax included)

You’ll spend two nights in one of our king bedrooms with private bath (other rooms available for an upcharge). On your arrival, you’ll find a bottle of Truro Vineyards signature lighthouse bottle of wine (either blush, white, or red) to enjoy. Each night will be followed by a great 3 course home-cooked breakfast. On Saturday, you’ll enjoy a private tour of the vineyard and winery including a history of the property, explanation of the grape growing process and a little introduction to fermentation and wine making. After the tour enjoy a selection of 5 wines to taste and a sample of local artisan cheese paired with the wine. You get to take their souvenir glass home with you. This private tour takes about 1 hour. On your return to the Inn, you’ll want to freshen up before heading to the Grand Cru Wine Bar in Hyannis. Enjoy great food and wine with a gift certificate provided in this package.


Truro wine

The fine print… Reservations based on availability and must be made no later than May 1, 2014. This package may not be combined with any other discounts or packages. Valid only on the date offered. May not be added on to existing reservations.

Cape Cod Wellfleet Oysters

Jonathan Swift once observed, “It was a bold man that first ate an oyster.” Yet the concept of eating raw seafood has existed among primitives forever. One wonders how our ancestors discerned the briny, delicious delight that lies inside tightly closed oyster shells. Seafood lovers gratefully pay homage to that brave soul who “first ate an oyster” every time they down a couple of dozen on the half shell. Wellfleet fishermen produce and harvest oysters famous throughout the world. The taste is unique because of the water flow, and an abundance of nutrients, minerals, and fresh water intrusion. Oysters are at their plumpest and sweetest in months with an “r” in it. They spawn in the months without an R, May through August, and reach their flavorful height by late October. Wellfleet Oysters are prized by chefs the world over for their delicacy and sweetness. Millionaire railroad tycoon ‘Diamond Jim’ Brady would often just have to have these for a mid-morning snack—and no other oysters would do. The town incorporated into the Town of Wellfleet in 1763 and is claimed to be the namesake of the Wellfleet (or Wallfleet), England, another town renowned for its oysters (oysters still are an important commodity to this Cape town). The town has been famous for Wellfleet Oysters ever since these tickled Champlain’s Gallic taste buds in 1606 (Champlain christened Wellfleet Port aux Huitres—literally “port of the oysters”). Wellfleeters and gourmands happily agree that these choice shellfish are the most fragrant and sweetest of all oysters. There is a Wellfleet Oyster Weekend in October each year. Activities include an oyster shucking contest, raw bar, live auction, live music, road races, arts and crafts and more.

Oyster Festival





Many thanks to Guidebook Cape Cod.  Find many more Cape Cod facts at

The calm before the crowds in Chatham


Known best for its beaches and lighthouse, this town at the elbow of Cape Cod is sleepy at this time of year. But the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge yields lovely views on a sunny winter day, restaurants offer creative and upscale cuisine, and there’s room to browse in the many shops and galleries. Be sure to check out the Orpheum Theater, the culmination of a two-year effort to bring movies back to Main Street in a restored a 1916 cinema that stands as a monument to the town’s artistic sensibilities and community spirit.

Movies are back on Main Street at the renovated Chatham Orpheum Theater (637 Main St., 508-945-4900, After raising $3.4 million in less than two years, Chatham Orpheum Theater Inc. restored the 1916 building and opened it last July. In the lobby a 240-square-foot mural depicts scenes from Hollywood’s classic films. Along with first-run movies, the Orpheum shows independent films, classics, and documentaries on its two screens. Seats are comfortable, with high backs and plenty of leg room. orpheumexterior(1)

For Ellen Albanese’s full article in the Boston Globe Travel Section, click here.

The Inn is just an easy 20 minute drive to Chatham.  Spend your day in this great little town and then head back to the Inn for a restful respite from the hustle and bustle.

Sea Meadow Inn, Salt, and Sears

Because of the importance of salt to the early colonists, repeated efforts were
made to manufacture salt.

My beautiful picture

 Photo Courtesy of Orleans Historical Society

Ammiel Weeks of Harwich is credited with being the first to test the
practicality of making salt by solar evaporation, about 1775. Weeks used a vat six
feet long by two feet wide, divided into two or three compartments. But the first
successful commercial works by solar evaporation on the Cape, and the man to
whom its subsequent success has been largely credited, was John Sears (1744-1817)
of Dennis, in 1776. Sears had been a fisherman before the war, and to secure
financial support, he engaged as partners his cousin Edward Sears, and Christopher
and William Crowell, who had observed the process in Labrador. The works were to be located on Sesuit Neck in East Dennis.

Amos Otis described the original works as being
one hundred feet long, and ten feet wide, and all on the
same level. The flooring was of white pine plank, laid on
oak sleepers, the latter running crosswise. The gunnels were
of plank, eight inches deep, and secured by upright pieces,
mortised into the ends of the sleepers, and by knees passing
under the flooring and on the outsides of the gunnels. The
corners of the vat were also secured by knees; the roof was
curiously fashioned ; rafters, grooved on either side, were
permanently fixed to the gunnels, at the distance of five or
six feet from each other; the doors were made of a
corresponding width, and consisted of several boards of the
same length, with the rafters clamped together. These slid
obliquely upwards and downwards in the grooves of the
rafters, and were prevented from swagging in the center by
board rafters placed between the principal ones. It was soon
found necessary to have a separate vat to crystalize the
salt, and a partition was placed across, and the kine boiled
over. . . . A little before the close of the war [1780-1), Mr.
Sears procured one of the pumps of the British ship-of-war
Somerset, wrecked on the coast of Cape Cod, and erected it
for the supply of his manufactory, and to avoid the labor of
badmg water. (Otis 1832: 90)
Sears’s first attempt in 1776 produced only eight bushels of salt, and the works were
promptly labeled “Sears’s Folly.” The second year Sears caulked the seams and
obtained thirty bushels. In 1785, at the suggestion of Major Nathaniel Freeman of
Harwich, who had seen a similar pump, Sears attached a small windmill with canvas
sails to his pump. These small windmills became the most distinctive feature of the
Cape Cod saltworks As every 2,000 feet of work required a miU and pump, this
meant that by 1831 over 700 such mills were needed (Thatcher 1804: 114-115). 

And what is the connection with the Sea Meadow Inn?  You’ll have to look back in our blog to see the answer….

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Cape Cod’s Nauset Archaeological District

The Nauset Archaeological District (or “Coast Guard Beach Site,19BN374” or “North Salt Pond Site,19BN390”) is a National Historic Landmark District in Eastham, Massachusetts. Located within the southern portion of the Cape Cod National Seashore, this area was the location of substantial ancient settlements since at least 4,000 BC.

ChamplainThe first written account of this area was by Samuel de Champlain in 1605, in which he described sailing into a baysurrounded by the wigwams of the Nauset tribe. The account detailed the settlement’s crops (e.g. corn, beans, squash, tobacco), housing (round wigwams covered with thatched reeds), and clothing (woven from grasses, hemp, and animal skins). De Champlain’s map also depicts one of their fishing methods, using a conical weir constructed of saplings and grass rope, designed to capture fish swimming from the marsh into a pond. To farm the land, they used stone hoes and fire-hardened wood tools. About 150 people were living at the site around Nauset Harbor, and about 500-600 were living around Stage Harbor to the south in the area of present day Chatham. Archaeological studies have since shown that these settlements were occupied year-round.
After 1620, English colonists from the settlement at Plymouth visited Nauset many times to buy food and trade. In addition to goods for trade, however, the Europeans also unwittingly introduced diseases, for which the Nauset people had no immunity. Many of them died as a result, and their population declined drastically. In 1639 about half of the English from Plymouth relocated to the Nauset area, settling the town that is now Eastham.

Clicking on the links above will provide more information about the Cape Cod National Seashore and the Nauset tribe.

Many thanks to for this information.