As with certain human visitors who wear out their welcome, Martha’s Vineyard hosts many invasive plant pests: purple loosestrife, Norway maple, Russian olive, phragmites, some miscanthus, even the occasional ailanthus tree. But the grand champion of the invaders is Oriental bittersweet, Celastrus orbiculatus.
Michael Faraca is New England born and bred, but his work life is all Olde England.
On this rainy mid-winter day, as he sits sipping hot sweet tea, looking proprietarily across a manicured garden of the North Water Street home that he has tended through three owners, he muses on his past twenty-five years of employment.
“In the classic old English tradition,” he says, “the gardener comes with the house.”
I bought my house in February some years back, and as I drove away with the real estate agent after the first visit, I noted what looked like sticks growing out of the ground – bare branches of small trees planted in no particular order in the middle of the lawn. The acre of land that was to be mine, surrounded by winter and woods, looked hapless against the blustery, gray sky.
I created my first compost pile in upstate New York in the 1970s when I started serious gardening – but the impulse to conserve and recycle has been with me much longer. After World War II, my mother and sister and I were poor; we scraped by, always having food on the table but knowing we had to make do with scrambled eggs and spaghetti several times a week for dinner. We recycled everything from bread wrappers to bacon fat, and the only paper product my mother ever bought was toilet paper. We never threw anything away without first considering what use it might still have.