How Does Your Garden Grow?

Some Ideas from Our Resident Gardener and a Few of Her Gardener Friends.

This little Vineyard Haven guy, Michael Metcalf, is three and he’s very proud of his shovel. It’s sized just for him, and though he got it off-Island (at Home Depot), the other child-sized tools are from the
Toy Box at the Tisbury Market Place. Michael loves playing in the dirt, and is becoming quite a good gardener, but we can’t give him credit for the beautiful pots of pansies and strawflowers next to
him ­– they’re from Vineyard Gardens in West Tisbury.

The little steel watering can (far left) has a copper bottom, like a fancy pot. I got it for $20 from Campbell & Douglas Harness and Feed on South Road in Chilmark.

I use it to water inside flowers, but you could also use it outdoors for tender seedlings. Alison Shaw and Sue Dawson have been using the yellow sprinkler at their Farm Pond home for a dozen years.

These are interesting pants. They belong to cottage garden consultant Marjory Potts. Marjory, who lives in West Tisbury, is a long-time gardening friend of mine who has given me countless plants for my own gardens. She had a friend make these for her. They’re light-weight cotton with pockets in the knees; Marjory can stuff pads in them so her knees don’t get sore while kneeling in the often rocky muck. Speaking of muck, the boots are Muck Boots, popular with professional landscapers who say they’re so comfortable they wear them everywhere. You can buy them for about $40 in gardening catalogues such as Gardener’s Eden, or try the Green Room in Vineyard Haven, or Campbell & Douglas Harness and Feed.

A hat will keep you sunburn free, and don’t real gardeners just look more authentic in straw hats? The Garden Party gloves, about $10, are from Shirley’s Hardware in Vineyard Haven. They’re rubber on the palms and fingers so briars don’t stick you while you weed. Very handy.

This high-tech cable is actually a self-coiling watering hose, about $6. Quite useful for those of us who have many plants in many places: it stretches out with no tangles then snaps right back into place. These Felco pruners, the king of pruners, are $30, which might sound steep, but you’ll never have to buy another pair. In the background is a Cape Cod weeder, about $25. It’s not the original Cape Cod weeder, but a good imitation, with an ash handle and tempered steel cutting blade. Lots of people swear by these. I got all this stuff from Campbell & Douglas.

I have quite a collection of garden books – they’re invaluable to gardeners. Pick up the Old Farmer’s Almanac at Bunch of Grapes bookstore in Vineyard Haven. You’ll learn that the best time to plant flowers and vegetables that bear crops above ground is during the light of the moon (from the day the moon is new to the day it is full). Plant flowering bulbs and vegetables that bear crops below ground during the dark of the moon. Wildflowers (front) was published in 1852 and is one of Marjory Potts’s prized possessions, a gift from her mother-in-law. In First Spring, longtime Gazette reporter and contributing editor Phyllis Meras records her first seasons on the Vineyard. You can read about how we humans experience the plants around us in A Natural History of the Senses, by Diane Ackerman.

You can get seeds from just about any store selling gardening equipment or   hardware (and even some grocery stores) on the Island. We got these at SBS on State Road in Vineyard Haven for $1.50 to $2.50 a packet.

I met Roxanne Kapitan on the boat one day, and we started talking about plants. Turns out she runs a business called Vineyard Organic Perennials out of her house in Vineyard Haven. She has a great big greenhouse attached to her house on Summer Street, and she advertises plant sales beginning the last weekend in April until the first weekend in July (Saturdays only). She’s pictured with her
favorite plants – her rosemary topiaries, which she keeps going all year in her unheated greenhouse.  These are not for sale, but she will have lots of cuttings at her plant sales.