By LYNNE IRONS
This may have been the most beautiful week in the garden year. The previous week’s rain combined with a sunny weekend brought out leaves and flowers in spades. I was amazed by two ornamental cherry trees in particular — next to Morrice Florist and on the Edgartown Road between Skiff and Cromwell (easily as big as the house). The row in front of the Tisbury School is coming along nicely. I remember when they were planted.
Some years ago against conventional advice I planted a white dogwood (Cornus Florida). Supposedly they were prone to disease here in the Northeast and were reportedly doing poorly. Luckily mine was placed in reasonable, well-drained soil and located in partial shade. I noticed it threw a baby seedling a few years later. That baby has bloomed and is actually prettier than its parent. There is a nice one next to Sandy’s Fish and Chips.
I love it when trees have babies that I recognize. When I moved into my home 35 years ago, I found an apple tree about 10 years of age. It was dwarfed by a scrub pine, misshapen and in poor condition. I cut down the pine, began fertilizing and pruned like crazy. It finally bore fruit which in turn grew into a few seedlings. I moved them around the property here and there without much thought. I had been told they most likely would fail to fruit. Not so — so far I have five good sized trees and another with one or two flowers this year. What a kick! The blossoms have been attracting Baltimore orioles like crazy.
I popped a few zucchini plants into the garden this week. It may still be a bit cold for them, but at least it means a few less plants to water in the hoop house. I purchased some very rich cow manure from Freddie Fisher late this winter. It is simply teeming with earthworms. I am putting shovelfuls here and there to increase my worm population. I remember Wayne Arruda telling me he worked for Rod Backus landscaping back in the 1970s. Every day he brought some earthworms home from the job sites in his lunchbox. His own soil was all the better for the effort.
I planted a bunch of artichoke seedlings. I started them in early March on a propagating mat. They have spent last month under Reemay outside in large plug trays. They do better in zone 8, (we are zone 7A). Northern California and Oregon are their favorite locations here in the States. I have had only moderate success in the past but am always determined. They will need winter protection but should produce well next year. I usually only get a few tiny chokes the first season — who was the first brave human to try them? Even if you don’t eat them, the choke is a bud which opens into a fabulous thistle-flower — great in the ornamental beds. The foliage is equally interesting — a rather blue, toothed large leaf. Its cousin, Cardoon, grows better here on the Vineyard. I love to try new plants. You never know what a success you can be.
Once again the view of Lake Tashmoo from the overlook is disappearing thanks to the privately-owned, purposely-planted willow trees at water’s edge. Too bad the owner had no feel for the common good. Tour buses used to sit and admire but now they rarely stop for more than a glance.
My daughter gifted me a coal miner’s lamp for Mother’s Day. Nothing can stop me now except, of course, this aging body.