Historic Cape Cod Gardens Open to the Public

The gardens at Highfield Hall in Falmouth have a rich and unique history. Especially considering at one point the gardens were in danger of disappearing.

Highfield Hall was built by the Beebe family in 1878. It was the first expansive retreat on Cape Cod. The Beebe’s lived a grand lifestyle sparing no expense on the property including the gardens.

Highfield’s gardens were designed by landscape designer Ernest Bowditch. Bowditch was an esteemed landscape designer. He was involved in the design of other wealthy estates such as The Breakers and Chateau-sur-Mer in Newport, Rhode Island.

Sadly Highfield Hall fell into disrepair and became a victim of vandalism. In 1994 under the threat of demolition, the community rallied together to save the historic home. Volunteers undertook countless man hours to work on the home restoring it to its former beauty. In 2007 Highfield was able to open for a full year of operations.

The Gardens were another story.

The restoration of Bowitch’s gardens began in 2010. Executive Director of Highfield Hall Peter Franklin said they were completely unrecognizable, “The place looked like an overgrown woods. It was pretty much all vegetation. They had to start from scratch.”

Landscape preservationist Lucinda Brockway used documentary evidence of the Beebe family herb garden and her own knowledge of historic plants to recreate Bowitch’s design. Again, the community stepped up. In addition to a team of professional landscapers, volunteer gardeners help keep significant gardens in bloom. The Sunken Gardens were restored in 2011 and the West Garden in 2012.

Both gardens are free for the public to visit. Marketing Director Janet Morganstern Passani  says it’s important for it to be accessible  “Now that we have created this area our community uses it. They find the cozy spaces to sit and relax or reflect.”

Visitors to the sunken gardens will be able to see hellebores which are blooming now, and soon over 400 daffodils will bloom. Giant alliums will be showing in early summer. In the summer, there will be daylilies, iris, and peonies. Hydrangeas will also be blooming during the Cape Cod Hydrangea Festival Open House at Highfield Hall in early July. During the fall, the Sunken Garden has asters.

In the West Garden, there will be many daylilies along with sedum, bee balm, phlox, astilbe and hydrangeas. In the fall, the West Garden also has blooming asters. The lawn overlooking the West Garden will be covered with black-eyed susan plants in the late summer. 

For more information on visiting or volunteering go to highfieldhallandgardens.org


 By Rebecca Romo, Lifestyle Reporter CapeCod.com

About Rebecca Romo

Rebecca Romo hosts Feel Good Mornings weekday mornings from 6-10 am on 99.9 The Q. Originally from New Orleans, she moved to Cape to be with her husband a second generation Cape Codder.

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