Professional gardener Peggy Schwier addresses the challenges of designing a property responsibly within the Vineyard landscape.
Already living a community-oriented lifestyle, the families who inhabit the sixteen homes at Island Cohousing in West Tisbury are further united by the sharing of one large garden – primarily maintained by Cohousers Lynn Weber and Paul Lazes.
Linda Black & Alexanda Bullen
Susanne Clark’s garden was planted on a slope in front of the house and the native stone was used for walls that form this terraced garden. Susanne and her husband, Ben, selected their Chilmark lot because they loved the agricultural setting, the decent soil, and the south-facing hillside where Susanne planned to place her garden.
A summer stroll down Pease’s Point Way across from Edgartown’s Westside Cemetery reveals a riot of garden color thanks to a narrow but profuse strip of wildflowers. Carol and Michael Berwind, who own two houses there, and Carol’s mother Jan Riley, who owns a third, tend these altruistic gardens on the far side of their fences.
It is early February. Martha’s Vineyard is in the midst of an icy winter. Yet tucked off of dirt roads and byways around the Island are edifices that contain remnants of the previous summer and whispers of the summer ahead. These greenhouses are lovingly tended by those who understand the promise of plants. Each greenhouse enables its enthusiastic owners to grow and propagate plants in flower-friendly temperatures all year long.
A worldly collection
Plants don’t lie, and any gardener will tell you that you don’t know a place until you know its plants. If you live on the Vineyard, or visit here, you may think you have a Ph.D. in beach. But unless you pay adequate attention to the plant life of the Vineyard’s margin of sand, you’re missing most of the subtlety of this peculiar habitat.
As opposed to a throwback to a bygone era – of neatly trimmed lawns with lines of clean, white sheets billowing in the wind like flags of the American dream, and of A Streetcar Named Desire separation of the classes with undershirts, bras, and tired nightgowns strung from urban balconies – perhaps if we renamed it a solar-drying device, the clothesline would seem more contemporary for today’s green movement. Either way, its time has come around again. The clothesline is back.
Simon Hickman puts up arbors with the same ease and frequency that I put up excuses. When you tour the grounds surrounding his home on Lambert’s Cove Road in West Tisbury, they’re as abundant as sparrows and each has its own distinct personality.