Among the many gardens of the Cape Cod Hydrangea Festival, there is one garden you must see with blooms in every shade of blue, pink, and purple.
During the Cape Cod Hydrangea Festival, you can visit private gardens – large and small – from Falmouth to Provincetown, Massachusetts.
The Cape Cod Hydrangea Festival is an annual celebration of the region’s signature flower. Hydrangeas are perennials. This year the festival is July 5-14, 2024.
Mal Condon, The Hydrangea Guy
You can get garden inspiration by visiting gardens of various types and sizes during the Cape Cod Hydrangea Festival.
But there is one stop you must make. This not-so-secret garden in Yarmouth Port is hydrangea heaven.
Known as The Hydrangea Guy, Mal Condon was educated as an engineer and has joked, “Typical of engineers, I know a lot about very few things; one of them is hydrangeas.”
In 1966, Mal and Mary Kay Condon moved from western Massachusetts to the island of Nantucket off Cape Cod. The Condons started growing and propagating hydrangeas, eventually starting a business.
In 2014, the Condons relocated to Yarmouth Port on Cape Cod. Not surprisingly, their 3-acre property is filled with hydrangeas.
During the Cape Cod Hydrangea Festival, you can see artists at their easels in the gardens.
After the festival, the artwork is on exhibit and available for sale at Harvest of Barnstable.
Mal Condon perfected his own variety of hydrangea after 20 years of experimentation. This unusual green cultivar is named Froggie™ because of its spotted appearance. If you’re lucky, you can buy a Froggie™ hydrangea from Condon’s garden during the festival.
Why are there so many hydrangeas on Cape Cod?
Hydrangeas thrive on Cape Cod because of the region’s sea breezes and maritime temperatures (cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter).
The acidic, high aluminum soil of Cape Cod produces the iconic Cape Cod blue hydrangea. The pH level (acidity) in the soil determines the color of the hydrangea. If the soil has varying pH levels – which some gardeners introduce intentionally – hydrangeas can boast a blend of colors.
The most common hydrangea shape on Cape Cod is the mophead (hydrangea macrophylla) which has a full, round bloom. Lacecaps (hydrangea serrata) have a flat bloom that is more delicate like fine lace.
One reason that hydrangeas are popular is because the flowers are long-lasting.
Typically, hydrangeas bloom from early July to the end of September. In autumn, hydrangeas enter the “antique season” when their colors are muted, yet still beautiful.
If you miss the Cape Cod Hydrangea Festival, you can still see hydrangeas at Heritage Museums and Gardens in Sandwich, Massachusetts, where Mal Condon is Curator of Hydrangeas.
While rhododendrons still rule at Heritage Museums and Gardens, hydrangeas are not far behind – both in the blooming season and as fan favorites. Heritage Museums and Gardens has more than 170 varieties of hydrangeas.
Gardens on tour display a Cape Cod Hydrangea Festival sign. The number of private gardens on tour, and the number of days that the gardens are open, can vary from year to year.
Garden tours are $5 per person per garden. Cash only is accepted at each garden on the day of the tour. Each garden is open only on the days specified from 10am-4pm. Garden tours are rain or shine and nonrefundable.
All proceeds benefit local nonprofits. In addition to the $5 entry fee, gardens may sell plants, crafts, or other hydrangea-related items. Most recently, the 10-day event raised more than $100,000 for Cape Cod charities.
Learn more about the Cape Cod Hydrangea Festival and see the full schedule of events.
See more Places to Go:
Coit Tower Murals
East Coast Lighthouses
Where to Buy Authentic Native American Jewelry
Musée de l’Orangerie
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