This morning I was out early admiring my tomato plants. I have been doing this for 40 years. The early sun was slanting across the lawn, the dew sparkling. The parsley in its planter was getting thick and sturdy, and I think I could make room for some beans in another corner. It all depends on where the sun hits the longest. The licorice plants are climbing all over everything, and the rose bush beside the steps gets bigger and bigger, overhanging the rockery and the basil and everything else. It’s ready to burst — quietly — into bloom. Friends say, do you need some lilies? Some more violets? Or alyssum? We’ve put in four hydrangeas at the edge of the lawn; it’s a dear and familiar plant, so why stop at four? It’s always been hard for me to cut down, or back, anything that looks like it wants to grow. Volunteers? Stick them in somewhere. Something that will root? A rose slip maybe? Put it in a glass. I even root mint on the windowsill to make more mint — hardly a plant that can’t take care of its own proliferation. Have I mentioned that the tomato plants are three in number, in giant pots? And that all this profusion is crammed onto our sunny deck, along with four chairs, an umbrella and two palm trees. Wherever we go, we have had a garden, and our new condo in Edgartown will be no exception.

Everybody’s got their story. How they got here, why they couldn’t leave, or didn’t leave. Long years ago, some good friends, colleagues at Ohio State University, had invited us to visit. We said okay, pretty much in the dark; where was Martha’s Vineyard? Was it attached to the mainland in some way? Was it really an Island? We did go; it was May and freezing, the ocean a cozy 50-something; it just suited our friends who were from Finland and they swam like seals. It was a beginning.

It was six years before we ventured back again — cautiously — and . . . after three days of walking, bought a house, startling ourselves and everybody else. A three-balconied gingerbread cottage in the Camp Ground with a bad roof. Thus began the years of bringing this big, old house back to life, and being summer people.

That was the first of our four homes here on the Vineyard. They have all been cherished. In our first year-round house in West Tisbury we paid our dues with the up-Islander’s milestones: the well that gave out, the chimney fire, power outages, and autos which stayed stuck in the snow for days at the bottom of the hill we lived on. We had our first big garden. Forty tomato plants didn’t seem too many — there was all that space! Kentucky Wonder pole beans went up to the telephone lines, and hung on the wires there.

We were in our next house, in Vineyard Haven, for 33 years, time for gardens, growth, stone steps, old log benches to sit on and small azaleas growing into bushes as big as a room. Towering Siberian elms that began to hang over the vegetable garden and shut out the sun. Little paths going through the shrubbery, for the grandkids to wander in (kids don’t wander, that was my fantasy, they tear around), and a wisteria garden that threatened to swallow up all the rest. Wisteria, bamboo, bittersweet and ivy . . . such beautiful adversaries . . . they never seem to kill each other, but only the things they mustn’t.

Now we have been in our new digs outside of Edgartown for nearly a year. We like the spaces and the light and have shoehorned eight rooms into four (and a cavernous basement). We like the way our stuff fits into it, how our pictures look on the walls and the plants thrive on the sky-lit balcony. We have new drives and destinations: Morning Glory Farm always gives me a lift — seeing the windmill almost lost in the fog, beautiful, and meaningful. And now we’ve turned our attention to the garden. We have woods on one side, and a wide lawn we don’t have to mow on the other. We didn’t leave the skunks behind, oh no. Or the deer. Three went bounding by my kitchen window the other day, a stunning sight. And our garden gets larger, as Ted slowly annexes pieces of the adjacent woods, with winding paths, wildflowers and small stone steps. The cats follow behind him, as he looks for a place to put two new blueberry bushes and the daylilies that a friend just gave us. Then I water the parsley, pick some roses, and tie up my tomatoes. Gardens make it all work.

Jeanne Hewett is a fabric artist and freelance writer who contributes regularly to the Gazette.