It was the quintessential beautiful Cape Cod day. The air was clear, dry and warm. The shade of blue in the sky was the type of color that can only be described as “sky blue”. Wisps of white clouds filtered the sun, while mountains of pink, red, and lavender dotted the lush green backdrop of the flowering shrubs. Kinda makes you want to break into song…
Is a nice flower,
It lasts forever.”
– “Do The Strand” by Roxy Music.
You can’t talk about “Rhodies” without thinking about Heritage Museums & Gardens in Sandwich, MA. Heritage is the closest thing Sandwich has to a public park, albeit a huge and amazingly beautiful one! We made our first trip of the season to Heritage this past weekend. We renew our family membership each year, and honestly, it is worth every penny. From touring the museums and riding on the antique carousel, to simply strolling through the amazing gardens, Heritage has something for everyone. Some of the attractions and exhibits are well known like the J.K. Lilly II Automobile Museum, the American History Museum and the Carousel. But we’ve found that our favorites are some of the lesser-known sites. Here are our “must see” recommendations:
The Fringe Tree & Herb Garden. Just before the Old East Windmill and C.B. Caldera Hosta Gardens, is a small driveway that leads to the Administration building. This is where you will find The Fringe Tree. This one of the most spectacular trees you’ll ever see, and it happens to be in bloom right now. The silky blossoms of this rare and beautiful tree are reminiscent of the fringe on a Victorian shawl. The blossoms are so soft to the touch they feel like pure silk. The Herb Garden, which is next to the Administration building, is where you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped into a Beatrix Potter story. Maybe you’ll find Peter Rabbit eating a bit of parsley, a little chive or maybe some coriander. Letting your kids “scratch and sniff” their way through this little garden is part of the fun (tasting a leaf off the spearmint plant is even better – shhh!)
The “Lake Walk”. This is a lovely and peaceful walking trail that winds around Shawme Lake. You’ll often find a couple sitting quietly on the handful of benches that over look the Lake. Follow the railroad-tie steps that lead to Parade Field near the American History Museum. This is a perfect spot to spread a quilt on the lush, almost golf course perfect lawn and enjoy a picnic lunch. Packing a picnic makes the day much more economical for those watching a budget. It also makes it possible to splurge on an ice cream treat at Blossoms Café later in day! Many people bring a Frisbee or a ball and glove to play catch. The grounds are perfectly manicured and Heritage encourages you to play to your hearts content on their nearly 5 acres of open lawn.
The Labyrinth. This classic 7-circuit labyrinth is a landscape wonder. It is located under an awning of black locust trees, providing dappled sunlight flickering on the granite cobblestone and crushed shell path. Just entering this space, you feel almost transported to ancient Egypt. The quiet and serine surroundings invite visitors to lose themselves in contemplation and reflection. As you wind your way back and forth along the path, leading eventually to the large tree in the center, you enter into a pleasurable state of timelessness. Some people feel a spiritual connection and Zen-like calm in surrendering to the flow of the path.
The Hart Family Maze Garden. A little off the beaten path, but well worth searching for, this maze is located just beyond the Old East Windmill. Unlike the Labyrinth, this is a true maze containing cul-de-sacs and dead ends. Young and old alike will delight in the over 30 varieties of annuals and perennial vines, including trumpet vine, climbing hydrangea and wisteria. There are also some whimsical topiaries peeking around nearly every corner, so look close!
On any give day from mid-May to late September, the variety of activities and flora make Heritage Museums & Gardens a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. In fact, we plan to go back this Sunday, June 14th to attend the European Union Auto Show and the Outdoor Music Concert. For more information check out their website: www.heritagemuseumsandgardens.org . Chances are pretty good that you’ll run into us during your next trip to Heritage – Happy exploring!