GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2006 show24
GardenSMART Newsletter Signup
Visit our Sponsors! Southern Living Dramm
Visit our Sponsors and win.
Past Shows:

Show #24/411

Cape Cod is one of the oldest and most beautiful parts of the country. People come to the Cape year round for a number of reason, but especially to enjoy the beauty and the comfortable weather. One of the top destinations is a town called Harwich. Not only are there shops, restaurants and inns lining the quaint streets but throughout the area there are beautiful gardens. One of the most surprising and memorable gardens is concealed behind a garden gate. In this show we take you behind the gate and find out why the garden and gardener really stand out. We'll then visit another garden in Sandwich that has a different look, but one common link.

Wendy Northcross is the Chief Executive Officer of the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce. Wendy welcomes the Garden Smart audience to Cape Cod. Cape Cod has been greeting visitors since the Pilgrims first landed in 1620. Each year around 4 million people visit the Cape. An amazing variety of people come and visit but as well the Cape has an interesting mix of locals. Some of the locals are artists, some retirees, some just regular folk, holding down regular jobs.

The weather in Cape Cod is generally cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter and a lot of that has to do with the Gulf Stream that comes along their southern shores. They're 1 growing zone warmer than the rest of New England so as a result they have a longer growing season, thus have some incredible gardens.

Cape Cod is home to over 4,000 artists and artisans, and these craftsmen create artwork that runs the entire gamut of art. Why do so many call the Cape home? Some think it's the laidback lifestyle, others think it's the incredible light. Being virtually surrounded by water, this is almost an island, provides a reflective light that somehow inspires and gives artists much more to work with, more than one might find in other places of the world. Wendy invites all in the audience to visit. It's a magical place.

Joe meets Eddie Foisy. Eddie is one of the most interesting individuals we've had the pleasure to meet while visiting gardens and gardeners across the U.S. Additionally, Eddie has incredible talents not only as a gardener but as a craftsman and woodworker. In high school Eddie developed a great love for woodcarving. After that, in the 70's, he was involved in sand sculptures on the beach. That's when his nickname evolved. His nephews and nieces called him Uncle Eddie, then all the other kids on the beach started calling him Uncle Eddie. Through the garden his many loves came together. He would say, "What would look good over there?" He has some masonry skills and started coming up with, for lack of a better word, fairy castles or fairy castle sculptures. He emphasizes he doesn't make medieval miniature castles, he makes garden sculptures.

One of Eddie's philosophies is that when entering the garden, it's a new world. He believes that once you go through the gate, "You're not in Kansas anymore." It is important to note that Eddie also made his garden gate, and it is a beautiful garden gate. He thinks it is a magical gate. It beckons you; makes you think. Joe feels it is beckoning him. He wants to see what is behind the gate.

Eddie was right - "We're not in Kansas anymore." To Eddie this is like his kingdom. His interpretation of what it might look like if you fell into a fairy tale. He likes to mix the folklore of the plants with the visuals and the aromatics. Accordingly, he has different mints and thymes. One must look closely, there are a lot of things to see. Adults and children alike experience a special feeling when entering and Eddie strives to create that feeling. The goal of what he does is to try to hit the child in a person. The child could be 4 or 70 or 80; he strives to take them back to that time in life before there was limitation, when all things were possible, when there were fairies and Santa Claus and before mom and dad started limiting you. They hadn't started saying "no," a time when all things existed. This state of mind or place in time is the essence of what Eddie strives to communicate in the garden. And he says he seems to hit that chord in people. At least, that's what he is told.

This is Eddie's show garden. He says a lot of his best work isn't here. This is his own personal art gallery. But additionally, it's his personal garden, and it is an evolving garden. There are different entrances. Things come and go. To Eddie spring is an exciting time, it is a time of expectation. There is the first flush of spring, after that it's an ever changing palate as the seasons roll along. Things are coming and going and that is the type of garden he likes. He tries to create magic and doesn't know if there is a better term. He ties in the plant life, he's big on herbs, has studied herbs and folklore. He's not a horticulturist, doesn't know all plants, but does know the family of plants in this garden.

Joe notices the many little castles. They have little doors. Eddie says he even has a miniature door on his workshop. He's even built furniture with miniature doors. He feels that with a door on a castle then all possibility exists behind the door. Imagination is everywhere. He doesn't want to negate imagination because that's where all is possible. Eddie says he believes that it was Einstein who said, "Imagination is more important than knowledge."

Eddie shows us a little ruin, it could have been here way before we arrived. He says, "Someone still lives there." When in this garden and you see something like this, you believe that someone does live there, it's the realism, the idea, you know you're in another world and you want to be a 3 inch person. Eddie has no problem with that, he loves his gardens. This is where he would want to live. He strives for realism, there is no plastic here. Everything is real. This is not a visual reality, it's a physical reality.

Eddie talks about making it real with the use of plants. The hens and chicks for example, more or less, fit the scale. He has sage, rosemary, even simple weeds, like teasel (Dipsacus fullonum). Teasel is a biennial but many times he cuts them off and gives them to children because they dry perfectly allowing the children to walk away with their fairy wands. That's why he has them because they dry perfectly. It's the little things that make a difference. Eddie loves this wild geranium. It's name is Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum). For that reason alone it belongs here. Most fairy gardens that he creates include a hawthorne tree (Crataegus oxacanthia) because, at least in the British Isles, the hawthorne tree was one of the favorite trees of the fairies. He read that it became one of the dominant courtyard trees to appease nature. And the elementals, the fairies, represented nature. So to appease nature, to stay in favor of nature they would plant a hawthorne tree. For that reason alone Eddie has always planted hawthorne trees in fairy gardens.

Eddie describes his castles. They are real. It's real stained glass, the stones are real, the castle is the way a real one would be. Starting with the larger bottom, then the window placement using slab stones, the window ledges, the roofs are real wood - ash, cedar sometimes copper shingles - the tops are copper. They're real. He has used castles throughout the garden and they look real but here he's gone the extra step and added a bridge. Joe asks, "Is that bridge there by design to allow passage over the creek to the castle?" Eddies says, "Sure, it's to add to the realism of the scene." There could be miniature doors where one least expects it. There could be pathways, some have water features, as opposed to a dry stone creek bed. He feels one is only limited by their imagination.

Joe and Eddie round a corner and notice something different. This is a fairy mound of moss with a standing stone. It's another part of the magical world. It's a complete world and this is like a mill. There's a function to this world and it has little stairs. Things come and go but there is no doorway. It totally looks like a ruin. It makes Joe wonder who lived here, what happened here? It makes one think about it. It's part of the permanence or the illusion of permanence, it makes you think something has been here before us.

If someone were to commission Eddie to make a piece he would first like to know where it would be. The type of property. If he were doing the complete garden, the area surrounding the castle, he would want to know if it was in full sun, deep shade, the environment and what it is that you're looking for. His sculptures can be very tall or stubby or traditional, etc. He tries to work with someone and do what they want.

The process starts in his workshop, which is in his barn. He likes to think of it as his magic workshop. If he can think of it he can usually make it. From conception to completion it starts and ends here. Eddie needs a special environment, it keeps his imagination going. Things must look the way he likes in order for him to be creative. He doesn't think he could do this in a metal building in some industrial park. A lot of the tools he uses were his grandfather's; one was a blacksmith, another grandfather that was a carpenter. These tools are his prized possessions. He actually uses them in the various stages of his work. He starts at the base, then goes up. Depending on the rocks he chooses, it starts to evolve. A lot of times the skeleton has no bearing on what the outside is going to look like because it's a sculpture. As he goes through bins of rocks he knows what works and what doesn't. In one castle, early in its early construction phase, one can identify the stairs because of the flat rocks already used.

Joe thanks Eddie for opening up his gardens and workshop and for letting us into his world, to see behind the scenes and let us see these incredible sculptures. This has been a real treat. Eddie says he has been honored by our presence today and suggests if we're headed to Sandwich to stop at the Dan'l Webster Inn, one of Eddie's latest pieces is in their garden.

Joe next visits the Dan'l Webster Inn in beautiful and historic downtown Sandwich. The Inn was built in 1692 and has offered lodging in one form or another for over 300 years. At one point during the Revolutionary Period it was known as the patriot headquarters. The most notable visitor to the Inn was Daniel Webster, one of the most prominent men of his day. Located on Cape Cod and nestled in the historic district of Sandwich, the Dan'l Webster Inn is the essence of colonial elegance with the modern amenities and comfort one would expect from a luxurious inn and spa. Today it also has beautiful gardens that add to the ambience. Michael Holcomb is the landscape manager and has done a great job designing and laying out the gardens. One of the main gardens, features bright, bold colors. This garden is specifically laid out so it's perfectly seen from the restaurant atrium. It draws one outside. When Michael laid out this garden he had a few things in mind. One was to add plants one at a time, not threes or fives, just one. He wanted to entice everyone to stop at a certain plant and go "wow, what is that," take it in, then be drawn down the path to something else that's completely different. The first plant we examine is an angel trumpet (Datura). It blooms at night, is fragrant and very attractive. The other technique he utilized was to put in bold, beautiful colors. He did that with an amaranthus. It has bright reds as well as blood tone reds. With a flower this vivid one doesn't need a flower. Below he added melampodiam. This was a plant he had not tried before, but knew he wanted to try it and wasn't afraid to experiment. He planted the seeds, up came the plant and he has had great success with it and is proud of the fact that he tried something new. He has complimented the colors here. Nice yellows play off the reds and that works well. As one is drawn down the path there is another new plant that he added this year for the first time; it's called blood leaf plant (Iresine lindenii). It looks like a tropical croton, but it's not. Michael found that one can take cuttings and propagate it very easily. Propagation is important to Michael because he enjoys giving plants away and it's an economical way to have more plants in the garden in the future.

We next visit the pool side garden where they've carried forward the tropical theme. Michael has taken advantage of every square inch of space and he's done a good job of layering. Joe starts with the ground cover, sweet potato vine (Ipomea batatas), this variety is called Blackie. There is a variegated version next to it called Marguerite, it's a chartreuse variety. This is a good ground cover and Michael digs it up in the fall, stores the tubers and replants them in the spring and they come back bigger and better than ever. It is not only a good ground cover but great in a container because it spills over the edge. As we move up we look at a plant new to Michael, one he is experimenting with. It's a Japanese banana plant (Musa basjoo). This is a tropical variety that's considered hardy here in zone 5. It's hardy in the roots, not the foliage, so it'll need to be cut back in the fall and presumably will come back strong next spring. That is complimented by a Canna with its rich foliage. This looks great at mid level. Several favorites along the back work very well. They are flowering hibiscus, Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) and the perennial sunflower (Helianthus). The tall plants in the back do a really good job of screening an unsightly view, a fence in this case. Another design concept is at work here. There is a borrowed view in the background. It's a flowering mimosa tree (Albizia julibrissin) and the colors work very nicely and tie in with the colors in this garden. Michael said that this was planned. It looks great.

Many say they have a difficult time getting color on a consistent basis in a shade garden. There are several things that can be done. First, do your homework and find plants that work well in a shade garden, plants that actually prefer these conditions. Another option is to do what was done here, place plants that prefer a sunny situation in a shady spot and as the plants start to decline, pull them out and replace them with similar, yet fresh plants. That way there is always a fresh look. But they do have plants here that do well in the shade; for example, New Guinea Impatiens, always a good choice for flowers in the shade. Coral bells (Heuchera) is a great foliage plant with delicate flowers. And of course, there is Uncle Eddie's castle, he told us we would find it here. They've selected a great site and then enhanced the site with light stone and dark mulch. That provides good contrast and is a good design technique.

We've seen 2 very different gardens today but they both have 1 common link - Uncle Eddie's castles. This has been a different show, but, very interesting. Our thanks to both gardeners, we've enjoyed their hard work.

Links ::

Daniel Webster Inn, Sandwich, Cape Cod
Uncle Eddie's World
Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce

Back to Top

GardenSMART Featured Article

By Dan Heims, president, Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc.
Photographs courtesy of Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc.

So many perennials have faded, lost their verve, stopped blooming. Enter the coneflower! In the opinion of Dan, the author, of this article Terra Nova has created, in form and function, the best coneflowers on earth. To learn more click here for an informative article.

  Click here to sign up for our monthly NEWSLETTER packed with great articles and helpful tips for your home, garden and pets!  
Copyright © 1998-2012 GSPC. All Rights Reserved.