Busy as a Bee

Big doings out at Bayes-Norton Farm. I’ve been watching all week and wondering if the garden is being expanded or a if a house is on the way. Those big machines sure make short work of land clearing. I was thinking about our ancestors doing the same task with nothing but beasts of burden and pure brawn. They couldn’t stop by for take-out on the way home either.

No Friend to Flowers, How to Deter Deer

The arrival of spring means longer days, budding blooms, birdsong and, unfortunately, the unwelcome arrival of deer in the backyard. Deer dig up gardens, eat tulips, and trample plants. They scrape bark off young trees and decimate backyard greenery, all in their quest to find food. Bambi is a beautiful creature, but he can be very detrimental to a garden.

Spring Is Go Time In the Garden

Phil Swift is waiting for the forsythia to bloom. The yellow harbingers of spring mark when the first loads of fertilizer can go down, when the final pruning should be attended to and when home gardeners re-emerge from the winter thaw.

“My forsythia have been trying to bloom all winter, especially on the nice days,” he said on a cool March morning at Jardin Mahoney in Edgartown “I always refer to the forsythia.

friendship garden

Even Deeper Roots for Friendship Garden

In May, Richard (RJ) Cage and his two sons built a handicap accessible vegetable garden at the Farm Institute. They used old barn wood to create the raised bed, making sure it was tall enough for wheelchair users to be able to lean over and pick crops easily. Over the summer more than 10 participants from the Seven Hills Foundation, a year-round day program for adults with developmental disabilities, worked in the garden two to three times a week.

Weather is Dry, Demand for Produce

Tomatoes and melons are on the way, cucumbers are having a banner year and demand is up for Island-grown produce, especially kale and chard. The biggest problem? Vineyard farmers can sum it up at the mid-summer mark in a single word.

“Dry,” said Bob Daniels of Old Town Gardens at the West Tisbury Farmers’ Market on Saturday. “I have irrigation, but it’s not like rain.”


In Polly's Garden: Hydrangeas: Back and Better Than Ever

Big, blue snowballs of hydrangeas backed by a white picket fence are a summer staple on the Vineyard. While the mophead flowers of bigleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) are the most popular with tourists, there is a whole world of hydrangeas for gardeners to explore. On a seed-collecting expedition to Japan in 2005, I encountered three other hydrangea species that are valuable ornamentals: the panicle hydrangea, (Hydrangea paniculata), the mountain hydrangea (Hydrangea serrata), and involucre hydrangea (Hydrangea involucrata).

On the Farm, Tending Family Mirrors Garden, Lots of Love

I live with my 97-year-old grandmother Rena in the farmhouse she bought with my grandfather in 1963, as a place for them to retire.

Mugwort Runs Rampant

My perennial beds are in serious disrepair. I did manage to get them cut back of last season’s debris. However they haven’t seen a cultivator or any fertilizer in a few years, forget about any weeding taking place. The mugwort has run rampant. For those of you unfamiliar with this weedy artemisia, it is in one form the herb moxa used in acupuncture. It has healing properties when burned on a patient. I had it work one time when the practitioner burned a cyst from the top of my hand. It was quite remarkable, actually.
snow peas

Peas Please

Snap, shell, snow: June means pea season on the Vineyard.

It’s a rite of summer, seeing the “We Have Our Peas” sign placed for the first time in front of the Bayes Norton Farm stand on Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road. (The Vineyarder who originally painted the sign wrote “Pease,” thinking it was spelled the same as the old Island family.)

Their peas are so sweet it’s as though owners Jamie and Dianne Norton added sugar to the soil.


The Vineyard Gardener


Taking the bad with the good is the nature of life. I was enjoying my morning tea in the garden while watching robins. Suddenly I realized they were unearthing my newly planted and mulched cucumbers in their search for worms. Every one had to be replanted. Why can’t they eat the Colorado potato beetles that have already begun their assault on my eggplants?