Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Gardening with Native Plants to Enhance your Historic Cape Cod Home

This charming cottage garden complements the simple lines of a traditional Cape
Designed by Chris Kolb, Ark Gardens, photo courtesy of Ark Gardens
Historic homes are inherently "green", preserving the embodied energy of the building materials used to construct them, while keeping those materials out of the landfill.  What better way to complement your historic home than with an equally environmentally sensitive garden?  On the Cape, while we are blessed with an abundance of natural beauty, we are also mindful of how fragile our environment is.  With a shallow aquifer, it just makes sense to incorporate native species that are drought as well as disease tolerant.

The cottage garden above is planted in what Chris Kolb, of Ark Gardens, refers to as a patchwork garden.  Like a patchwork quilt, it incorporates contrasting colors and textures in rectangular blocks of plantings.  The result is a charming cottage style garden which beautifully complements the simple cape style home.

Cape Cod Rambling Rose roof trellis
Photo courtesy of Ark Gardens

Close up of Cape Cod Rambling Rose Covered Roof Trellis
Photo courtesy of Ark Gardens

Inkberry, Photo courtesy of Ark Gardens
Ark Gardens in Sandwich specializes in creating gardens that respect the earth with a playful mix of traditional plants and native species.  Some plants arrived here with the colonists and have proven their suitability to Cape Cod's sandy soils and sea breezes.  Plants like lilac and Virginia roses are happy companions to native plants like Inkberry, Golden Aster and Lupine.   The Cape Cod Commission posts a wonderful list of native species suitable for the cultivated cape cod landscape.

Even the ubiquitous hydrangea has a native variety, Hydrangea arborescens,  that is better suited to the local growing conditions.

Healthy Hydrangea arborescens next to a struggling non-native Hydrangea macrocarpa under dry oak shade
Photo courtesy of Ark Gardens

Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle'.
Pink variety called 'Bella Anna'
Photo courtesy of Ark Gardens

Virginia Rose is native, pretty and low maintenance
Photo courtesy of Ark Gardens
Chris explains that part of a garden's success stems from the attention that he gives to establishing site lines that complement the existing architecture.  Ark Gardens philosophy is to approach an existing garden with a conservative eye, retaining, pruning or replanting established plantings when possible.

Plants can also serve multiple purposes.  Oregano, quince, savory and blueberries, while being attractive have the added benefit of adding edible leaves, bulbs or fruits to the garden.  Visit Ark Gardens website for more information and for a coupon good for a free design sketch and consultation.

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