Garden Photo of the Day

A Marblehead Massachusetts Gem by the Sea

By Kim Charles


Amy Hourihan's beautiful seaside garden adjacent to historic Fort Sewall, Marblehead, MA.

"Our property consists of a 1/2 acre walled yard, with water views, in the historic New England village of Marblehead. The home is an 1880 Colonial Revival.

When we bought this house seven years ago, there was very little besides hosta, day lilies and lady’s mantle thriving, and there was no hardscaping or inviting places to sit outdoors. It had a guest cottage that was boxy and unattractive. Besides adding several rounded brick terraces with granite coping, we also added a small victorian greenhouse to the cottage. A raised bed potager uses a corner of the yard. The main attraction is a hundred foot cottage garden, along an old stone wall. In the spring it is filled with drifts of tulips and narcissus, and in summer, roses and clematis spill out of the drifts of digitalis, peonies and delphinium. Dahlias and phlox carry the late summer show. An old apple tree, blueberries, elderberries, and strawberries provide fruit, in addition to the productive vegetable garden. The greenhouse extends the season by a month in both spring and fall, and cold frames deliver fresh lettuce and greens year round. We start all our own veggies and flowers under lights in February before they harden off in April and May in the greenhouse. Windowboxes on the cottage are filled with colorful, homegrown annuals.Water barrels, made from old whiskey barrels, conserve water. We are zone 6B."

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View Comments


  1. Plantstuff 09/23/2016

    Please send more pictures!! Would love to see your greenhouse and cottage. Your property looks lovely and to live by the ocean, that would make my day every day.

  2. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 09/23/2016

    Yes, that is a gem! Such a great lot and sounds like you've done a great job augmenting the plantings and hardscaping. Looks great.

  3. user-4691082 09/23/2016

    I'm jealous!!! Marblehead? Fantastic! Your gardens are beautiful- do you host garden days in your community for fundraisers? I echo Sharlene, more pictures please! Especially greenhouse and cottage! What are the flowers atop the fain barrel?

    1. achachachach 09/23/2016

      Thank you for the feedback! The flowers were a lovely calibrachoa. I have started to find seeds available for these plants, and they are easy to start under lights, though I confess I bought this one at a nursery.

  4. sharongoetchius 09/23/2016

    So beautiful!!! Love it! As others have already asked..can we see more..would love to see the cottage and greenhouse?

  5. NCYarden 09/23/2016

    Wow, what a great setting. Very cool stone wall - nice feature indeed...and for you to then complement it with all your wonderful plantings, I must say well done. Ha! delphiniums again, love 'em, but why do I feel I'm being tormented this week? Very beautiful.Thank you for sharing.

  6. User avater
    meander_michaele 09/23/2016

    Everything is so picturesque, Amy and your addition of the outdoor seating areas adds so much to the overall ambiance...especially when there is that oh, so handsome and historic stone wall to gaze upon. I also adore your colorful and charming window boxes. They are such happy exclamation points to an already beautiful setting. And, an enthusiastic YES to more pictures.

  7. user-7007498 09/23/2016

    The stone was is such an impressive backdrop, and could be very imposing, but you have done a fantastic job with your plant selection to integrate it into the garden. I agree with David, I feel tortured seeing beautiful delphiniums twice this week. I love them, but cannot grow them in my climate. The windowboxes on the house are beautiful. Love that you planted the rainbarrel. Amy, great photos, wonderful garden, thanks for sharing.

    1. Luvfall 09/23/2016

      I second the delphinium comment! I also like the way the flowers on the rain barrel decreases its impact.

  8. sumhillgardener 09/23/2016

    Spectacular setting ! Not to be repetitive, but I too would love more photos. Agree about the delphiniums and the stone wall is gorgeous. I love the lady's mantel in front of salvia and foxglove and the window boxes are fabulous. Is the purple flower in corner of the house an annual? Or salvia ? Just perfect ! A dream house and garden.

    1. achachachach 09/23/2016

      Thank you! The purple flower is "Walker's Low" Nepeta. Blooms all summer here.

  9. Sunshine111 09/23/2016

    Quite lovely. I am especially admiring your window boxes. They are spectacular!

    1. achachachach 09/23/2016

      Thank you. These boxes are planted with licorice plant, lobelia, calibrachoa, bidens, bacopa and ageratum that I grew under lights in late February. Every year they are a little different, and I swap the plants out for autumn mums and asters, and greens and berries for the winter holidays.

      1. Sunshine111 09/23/2016

        Well I know that they take dedication. I live in Hooksett New Hampshire and have windowboxes hanging from my porch. I plant them once a year and they are on drip irrigation so they are relatively low compared to yours!

        1. achachachach 09/23/2016

          Mine are on drip too, and its saved ALOT of watering during this drought!

  10. achachachach 09/23/2016

    Thanks for the compliments! I love to garden!
    Here are a few more photos of the garden. The greenhouse was built by Hartley Botanic, and is called "Paxton", the smallest one in their Victorian line. It's about 100 sq feet, or thereabouts. (Eric Roth photo for Hartley Botanic)My husband built the fence panels for my kitchen garden out of copper tubing and wire mesh, to keep the bunnies and groundhogs out of my crops. I have five raised garden beds. The panels worked like a charm. They lift out for weeding, and then the foot posts slide back into plastic tubing in the corners. Ingenious and not messy looking. Thanks to my husband for his support!

    1. Cenepk10 09/23/2016

      My wish is your command !!! Exactly what I wanted to see !!! Amazing greenhouse

    2. user-7007498 09/23/2016

      Amy, the greenhouse looks beautiful, and integrates well the house. Is that a door from the house into the greenhouse? Very envious, as I have thought about a greenhouse for years.

      1. achachachach 09/23/2016

        No, it does not go through into the small guest cottage, which I use as a painting studio. It was prohibitively expensive to put in a door into the small spaces. It's just a window.

    3. User avater
      meander_michaele 09/24/2016

      So glad I popped back in and got to see these additional pictures. Your greenhouse looks wonderful in every way.

  11. User avater
    treasuresmom 09/23/2016

    Beautiful!!!!! Can you tell me what the shrub/tree is in pic 7 close to the house and underneath the window boxes?

    1. achachachach 09/23/2016

      Those are two varieties of the biennial hollyhock, one is dark maroon, and the other a pale yellow. They bloom in July and August. Marblehead is known as "Hollyhock Town" as they have naturalized in many spots in the historic district, and are a favorite garden plant for locals. To the right of the hollyhocks is a blue hydrangea.

  12. Cenepk10 09/23/2016

    Dreamy... absolutely dreamy. Love lady's mantle & all the other plantings too. Your rain barrels are clever. Would love to see more pictures. Window boxes are amazing!!!!

  13. User avater
    LindaonWhidbey 09/23/2016

    Amy, what a beautiful garden you've created. Love your window boxes and how nice to already have a stone wall to use as backdrop for your breathtaking perrenials. Don't you just love having a greenhouse? We built ours about 4 years ago and never dreamed how much enjoyment we'd get out of it. Thanks for brightening my rainy morning with your sunny garden.

  14. achachachach 09/23/2016

    Many of you have asked to see more photos of the greenhouse. These were shot by Eric Roth for Hartley Botanic, who manufactured the greenhouse. Our stonemasons built the foundation, and the greenhouse was assembled on site. The aerial shot shows historic Fort Sewall over the garden wall, and Marblehead Harbor beyond. The interior has removable shelving.

  15. wGardens 09/23/2016

    Beautiful. Love your color choices. The stone wall is wonderful. The window boxes on the second story have a great impact. nice job!! .

    1. achachachach 09/23/2016

      Thanks. I think the stone wall makes the whole yard. Anything planted in front of it looks super, but particularly light colored flowers and foliage.

  16. Plantstuff 09/23/2016

    Amy - thanks for the extra pictures of your amazing garden. Love your greenhouse. I spoke with Hartley one year about installing a greenhouse on my property. We decided to put in a pool and pool house instead. It is still in my head though shhh don't tell my hubby that. Do you have to pinch yourself daily on where you leave? Beautiful, just beautiful.

    1. achachachach 09/23/2016

      I'd die for a pool!! I do enjoy this garden, as it isn't too big for a retired couple, but I can get my hands dirty and I have really enjoyed being able to propagate my own plants. Adds a whole new dimension of fun.

  17. schatzi 09/23/2016

    Absolutely beautiful! And what a lovely site. You have done an amazing job. Thanks for sharing.

  18. bsavage 09/25/2016

    Stunning! I am also a little jealous of your beautiful greenhouse!

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