It's the time of year when you need to be extra vigilant about checking yourself for ticks. The University of Rhode Island TickEncounter Resource Center website is filled with important information for tick prevention, helping identify ticks and other tick questions you may have. If you do find a tick you can submit a photo to tickencounter or you can send the tick to TickReport, a lab at UMass for testing.  Once Tick Report receives your tick it will identify in 2-3days any disease causing microbes the tick may be carrying, including pathogens that cause Lyme disease. These are wonderful services to ensure your prevention and safety from tick bites!

Just in time for Mother's Day!

Our Monrovia Georgia order arrived this morning! Vineyard Gardens is now filled with beautiful Tropicals, ferns, hydrangeas, grasses, roses, hollies and much much more! We also have gorgeous flowering baskets for Mother's Day!







Butterfly Bush (Buddleia)

Flowering Basket for Mother's Day

Flowering Basket for Mother's Day

New arrivals at Vineyard Gardens Nursery!

Our nursery is bursting with spring colors and flavors! Gorgeous plants have arrived from Monrovia and Proven Winners. Yesterday we unloaded a truck of Forsythia, Andromedas, Rhododendrons and Leyland Cypress. And Vineyard Gardens edibles are ready to be planted in your garden today! We will help get your gardens ready for summer!






Euryops yellow daisy


Tropicals from Monrovia

Rosemary from Monrovia

Rosemary from Monrovia



Now is the time to plant your strawberries! On Saturday May 12th at 11:00am, Chuck Wiley of Vineyard Gardens will be giving a hands on workshop/demonstration about planting, growing and harvesting blueberries, raspberries, black berries and strawberries.





Unloading the truck


Rhododendrons and Leyland Cypress



Come and join us at Vineyard Gardens Nursery every Saturday in May at 11am for the very informative and enjoyable gardening workshops!

Raised vegetable bed gardening workshop with Sue Lavalee, of Coast of Maine.

A hands on workshop/demonstration about planting, growing and harvesting blueberries, raspberries, black berries and strawberries with Chuck Wiley
of Vineyard Gardens.

Workshop on growing your own herbs led by Irene Fox, who runs
the Vineyard Gardens herb house.

Find out the key to container gardening. A workshop on planting your own container follows lecture.  Led by Kathy James of Vineyard Gardens.



Traveling is an amazing way to ignite the senses! The smells, tastes and colors that line the streets get logged into your memory and last a lifetime. On Chris and Chuck Wiley's recent adventure through Thailand they immersed themselves in the local culture and cuisine of Chiang Mai, the largest city in Northern Thailand. The city has over 300 Buddhist Temples ("Wat" in Thai) and is in close proximity to the Ping River, as well as beautiful national parks. While in Chiang Mai, Chris and Chuck took a cooking class to immerse themselves in the Thai cuisine and learn about the produce and herbs grown in Thailand. They explored the local market to purchase fresh ingredients for the feast. They made curry pastes from scratch and proceeded to make multiple Thai dishes. An experience and flavor of a lifetime! (Recipes at the end of post).

Chiang Mai Market

Chiang Mai Market

Chiang Mai Market

Chiang Mai Market

Red curry paste


 Masaman Curry

Masaman Curry

Red Curry

Chris Wiley

Chuck Wiley

A few weeks later I was lucky enough to explore the local produce markets in southern Thailand with them. Chris was excited to see and taste anything that was new and different. She brings that same enthusiasm for life with her to Vineyard Gardens Nursery. She loves exposing her customers to a variety of edibles that they may not know. Her excitement for edibles is contagious which encourages customers to push their boundaries and try to plant a new flavor. Experiencing something different in your garden can help you grow as an individual as you are helping your plants grow!


Gustus Brussels Sprouts

Walla Walla Sweet Spanish Onion



Garnet Giant Asian Green

Shuko Pac Choy

Golden Chard OG

Osaka Purple Mustard OG

Astro Arugula OG

Red Salad Bowl

Now that spring is here it may be fun to experiment with new edibles in your garden or at your dinner table. The edibles from Vineyard Gardens can take you around the world in one dining experience from Asian salads to Portuguese kale soups to Thai curries. We will be selling many varieties of Asian greens, Chinese cabbage, bok choy, kale, mustards, collards, lettuce, swiss Chard, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, leeks, onions and celery. We are also seeding jiffy pots of two pea varieties, the shelling kind and snow peas. Cool weather veggies packs are now available through the end of May. It's important to start getting these cool weather loving veggies in the ground and also a great time to plant strawberries, asparagus and other small fruit like blueberries and raspberries. Talk to Vineyard Gardens for specific planting guidelines.

Below are links to a couple recipes to get you started on your cooking journey. 



Thai Red Curry with Kale

Kale Soup with Potatoes and Sausage



We have had three windy and heavy snow storms this March leading to tree damage around the island and potentially in your own backyard. Cracked or broken branches can’t heal themselves like bones so the best practice is to remove them. Trying to retain them with cables or such will almost always fail over time. Damaged and dead branches should be pruned back as soon as possible to prevent disease from entering the plant.  Deadwood can also be removed at any point during the year, as it can harbor and attract insects and fungal diseases. 

Remove the damaged branches by cutting them off back to a healthy branch. Make the cut roughly a half inch past the intersection of the two branches. There should be a slight swelling at this intersection, leave the swelling on the tree, that is where the tree will callous and seal off the wound.


Evergreens that have lost their leader or top most branch will normally regrow. If they form multiple leaders the strongest central one should be chosen and the others cut back. Cut them back at least a foot below the main one and they should not grow past the new central branch.

Most deciduous shrubs, those that loose their leaves, can be pruned very hard in the  early spring and will regrow. They may not flower the first year but will do so in subsequent years. This hard pruning can apply to any overgrown deciduous shrub. Good candidates are forsythia , lilac, viburnum and privet.

Early Spring is a great time to prune most plant material.  Since the plants are dormant, pruning won’t affect their ability to generate energy, like it would if there were leaves present.  It also makes it much easier to see the structure of the plant and remove any unhealthy branches.  Caution must be taken to avoid removing flower buds for the upcoming growing season. 

Tools:  Always use shape pruners, loppers, and saws.  It is recommended that tools be sterilized between pruning jobs to prevent passing fungal disease from one plant to another, or from one location to another property even.

Here is a good link for pruning damaged trees. 

The gift of Cherry Blossoms

We're a day late on this historical event but it gets us excited for the cherry blossoms on Martha's Vineyard...

Views of Washington Monument, Cherry Blossoms and Tidal Basin. Theodor Horydczak, photographer, ca. 1920-1950. Horydczak Collection. Prints & Photographs Division

Today in History - March 27

March 27

"On March 27, 1912, First Lady Helen Herron Taft and the Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador, planted two Yoshino cherry trees on the northern bank of the Potomac River Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C. The event celebrated the Japanese government’s gift of 3,000 trees to the United States. Trees were planted along the Potomac Tidal Basin near the site of the future Jefferson Memorial, in East Potomac Park, and on the White House grounds.

Views of Washington Monument, Cherry Blossoms and Tidal Basin. Theodor Horydczak, photographer, ca. 1920-1950. Horydczak Collection. Prints & Photographs Division

The text of First Lady Taft’s letter, along with the story of the cherry trees, is available from the National Park Service’s official Cherry Blossom Festival Web site. A timeline of significant events is also included.

Fifty-three years later, the Japanese government made a second gift of 3,800 cherry trees. In 1965, Mrs. Ryuji Takeuchi, wife of Ambassador Takeuchi, and First Lady Lady Bird Johnson participated in the ceremonial planting. This time, the trees were planted on the grounds of the Washington Monument.

Mrs. William Howard Taft… cMarch 16, 1909. First Ladies of the United States: Selected Images From the Collections of the Library of Congress. Prints & Photographs Division

The planting of cherry trees along the Potomac fulfilled travel writer and photographer Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore’s long and determined quest. Returning from her first trip to Japan in 1885, Scidmore advanced the idea of bringing the trees to the District of Columbia with U.S. government officials. She was ignored.

In 1909, Scidmore decided to raise money for the purchase of the trees herself. She wrote of her plans to the new First Lady, Helen Herron Taft, and received an enthusiastic response. “I have taken the matter up,” the First Lady wrote Mrs. Scidmore, “and am promised the trees.” Upon learning of the First Lady’s plans, the Japanese consul in New York broached the idea of making a gift of the trees to the U.S. government." Library of Congress

Mrs. William Howard Taft… cMarch 16, 1909. First Ladies of the United States: Selected Images From the Collections of the Library of Congress. Prints & Photographs Division



This is the month in question when people wonder if you are stark raving mad when you mention that you live on Martha’s Vineyard year round.

“What do you DO out there?”

Well, one thing we do is enjoy the fact there’s no one around. It's blissfully quiet and for the most part restrictions are lifted allowing you to walk freely in open fields, stroll on empty beaches and park on Main Street in Vineyard Haven.

A walk on the Woods Property in West Tisbury, part of Vineyard Conservation Lands.

Five Corners on a snowy night

It is also when the gardens are bedded down, sleeping for another month, until we begin our spring chores of pruning, fertilizing, clean up and planting early seed crops.

Calm seas and prosperous voyage

Vineyard Garden... winter aspect

At Vineyard Gardens, we keep one greenhouse open and heated throughout the winter for some of our tender, specialty plants like succulents, Brugmansias, Fuchsias, Gardenias and Rosemary.  Be sure to watch for them this season. Our year round greenhouse allows us to offer the wide range of plants that makes Vineyard Gardens so special.

In the first week of March, we will take our greenhouses out of hibernation to begin our germination process. We begin with the cool weather growers which take several weeks to germinate and develop strong root systems before they can be planted out. This would include the leafy greens like lettuce, cilantro, mustard greens, spinach and parsleys, as well as early flowers like Wallflowers, Pansys and Forget Me Nots.

Vineyard Gardens - Evergreen House

Vineyard Gardens - Overwintering House: Gardenias, Hibiscus, Citrus

Brugmansia sanguinea

Besides exploring the quietness of the island, the short days give us a chance to turn inward and settle in with a good book. It is actually something we quite look forward to since it's not always doable in our busy summer months. If you are yearning for the days to be in the garden, here are a couple of titles from my winter’s night-table to get you in the gardening spirit.

The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World

Michael Pollan - Random House 2001

Hard to believe this book has been around for 17 years. Its delightful, informative and beautifully written. As we celebrate Darwin’s birthday, this book serves as an apt companion. Pollen talks about our cultural relationship with plants and the natural world we all coexist in. He offers provocative musings on time, bees and the evolution of flower forms…




The Gardener’s Year

Karel Capek - Read Books Ltd. 2013

Originally published in 1929 in Prague. Leading up to the Second World War it is a testament to the healing virtues of gardening. It was penned by a writer known for his essays against fascism. The discovery of this little book came from the pages of one of the best books on the subject of gardens: Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition




Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition

Robert Pogue Harrison - Univ. of Chicago Press 2008

Combining such winter activities as reading, planning this seasons garden palette and browsing the Thrift Shoppe  we discovered this gem,




Dedication plate from Old Time Gardens

Old Time Gardens

Alice Morse Earle - The Macmillan Company 1901

It could be difficult to find this book in the bookstores but it is available through the Gutenberg Project in an annotated facsimile edition.


The book traces a practical and poetic history of American gardens touching on Puritan seed packets, Sundials, Flowers of Mystery and strolls down Lilac laden Narragansett lanes. This is from the golden age of pre-war, the First War, American landscape thinking. Its a valuable and surprisingly timely perspective on making gardens as refuge and nourishment for the soul.

A common thread through all these books, and of course gardening in general, is the power of observation. Paying attention. As the world moves ever faster and deeper into virtual abstraction it becomes all the more important that we step outside and absorb our natural world. It is not here simply for our delight, it can carry on quite nicely without us. But if we stop and listen closely we’ll be able to hear it whispering, beckoning us to share in the bounty of being

“Meanwhile the mind, from pleasure less,

Withdraws into its happiness:

The mind, that ocean where each kind

Does straight its own resemblance find;

Yet it creates, transcending these,

Far other worlds, and other seas;

Annihilating all that’s made

To a green thought in a green shade. “

The Garden, Andrew Marvell  1681

Your correspondent was able to get off Island long enough to attend the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Golden Globe Award’s. It does help to manage Island fever by keeping one foot on solid ground or at least the Red Carpet!

Omar Sharif Jr. and Keith Kurman at the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards