Town Column

West Tisbury

By Hermine Hull
Click here to contact Hermine

Posted May 17, 2007

There were so many possibilities in my mind when I sat down to write this column. Mother's Day, gardening stories, friends, the string of beautiful days we have just had, painting the colors in the landscape, all these images have been roiling around in my mind. Then I received an invitation to come and see Harriet Bernstein's spectacular cherry trees in bloom, and decided gardening would be the story.

With friends Leslie Baker and Sue Hruby, I embarked on a delicious day of garden shopping last Saturday. It was a beautiful day so we all headed off with our lists. Our first stop was Vineyard Gardens, to pick up a huge shadbush Sue had bought the day before and needed a larger vehicle in which to transport it home. Two extra pairs of arms to lift the thing didn't hurt either. The tree fit easily and was neatly cushioned in place by pots of hostas, astilbes, six-packs of fire red lettuce, and some hearty looking ranunculus. Danga Gabis's herb garden is such an inspiration and it always looks perfect, hence the fire red lettuce plants to hopefully spiff up my less-than-perfect kitchen garden squares. We quickly headed back to Sue's to unpack the car and make room to venture forth once again.

The next stop was Eden, attracted by the sign that said, "New perennials and annuals have arrived." Who could pass that by? Leslie and I had just been a couple of days ago when we both came home with "Cameo" quince bushes among other things, so salmon pink nicotiana and some dark blue sage plants were the choices for the day.

On to Heather Gardens, where Mike Saulnier always has the best selection of my favorite passion - green nicotianas. I chose three different ones, plus peach colored verbenas, and a hosta variety I had never seen, "Striptease." The car was loaded up once again, so home to unpack we went. Then, we all had the fun of looking over our purchases, walking around each other's gardens, deciding where to put things and what would look well together, and what we could trade.

On the way home from Sue's, Leslie and I admired Ann Burt's garden, where we had painted the evening before, and the light raking across the fields along Music Street. New leaves have emerged so quickly that Music Street already feels enveloped by the sheltering verdant boughs overhead. This has truly been the most beautiful spring, although my husband laughs when I say that and reminds me that I say the same thing every year.

Part of the fun of garden shopping, and gardening overall, is the interaction with the people one encounters. Besides the people who work there, there are always scores of fellow gardeners happy to share information and to talk about their gardens. On Saturday, we ran into Suzi and Bob Wasserman with their daughter Sarah, her husband Brian Bassett, and their son Henry, all in pursuit of a forsythia bush, as requested by Suzi for her Mother's Day gift. Henry had been fortified with breakfast at the airport, part of his Vineyard routine, and was ready to help his grandmother in the garden.

Conner Bettencourt is usually the first to spot hummingbirds when they return to West Tisbury, but this year the honors go to his aunt, Molly Cournoyer. April 29 is the date that Molly saw her first hummingbird of the season on Indian Hill Road.

Tom Vogl and Katherine Long have been hosting Katherine's mother, also Katherine Long, and sister Mary Ruth Flores, from Boerne and San Antonio Texas respectively. Mary Ruth is an amateur birder, so the foursome planned to spend a good part of their time together bird-watching.

If you have driven by Cynthia Riggs house lately and wondered if she had installed a helicopter landing pad for Cleaveland House guests, that is not the case. The crushed shell pad, installed by David Merry, will provide Cynthia with a workspace for the refurbishment of her thirty-seven foot 1967 Egg Harbor sport fishing boat, recently purchased in New Hampshire. The boat is all wood and "needs a lot of work." It had been scheduled to arrive on the Island last week, but as these things tend to do, plans changed. The boat is coming from Chichester, NH, to New Bedford, where Ralph Packer is expected barge it to the Vineyard, and Phil Hale will truck it the rest of the way to West Tisbury. Plan to watch the restoration progress, as it will be easily visible from the road. The boat has been renamed "Victoria" in honor of Cynthia's detective heroine in her mystery novels. Regarding that, Cynthia will be having a program at the West Tisbury Library called "Murder on the Vineyard" next Thursday, May 24, at 5 pm.

The Conservation Commission needs two new members. If you would be interested in serving, please contact Maria McFarland at 696-6404 or

Tom Dresser has told me about a series of three ten minute plays written by Maureen Hourihan about her father's struggle with Alzheimer's Disease. The performance will be this Friday and Saturday, May 18 and 19, 7:30 pm, at the Vineyard Playhouse.

Vineyard Gardens is holding a workshop this Saturday, May 19, called "Container Gardening with Debbie Dean." Bring your container at 11 am and learn how and with what to fill it for a summer long display. Call 693-8511 for more information.

Tonight is the Martha's Vineyard Cancer Support Group's fundraiser, "An Evening Under the Stars." It will be held from 6 to 9 pm at Mediterranean Restaurant on Beach Road in Vineyard Haven.

Saturday, May 19, Rosalie Powell and Judith Bunge will be exhibiting a collection of antique and new hooked rugs at the Ag Hall from 10 am to 4 pm. Admission is free. Many examples of work by Martha's Vineyard rug hookers will be highlighted. There will also be demonstrations and classes throughout the day.

Susie and Woody Bowman are still hoping for the return of their long lost cat, Mouser. He appears to have been seen between Middle Road and Tea Lane, although recently, the Bowmans have heard from someone on Lambert's Cove Road who has spotted an unfamiliar dark tabby cat.

Everyone in town should hope we don't have a serious fire over the next two weeks. Two of the Fire Department's trucks are currently off-Island being repaired. The pump on Engine 721 is being replaced, and the brush breaker, Engine 731, is getting a new drive shaft and front axle. It has been so dry and windy lately that a brush fire is a feared possibility.

Programs at the library this week include a very exciting new event. Abbie Dreyer will be performing a Jazz Concert from 4 to 5 pm this Friday afternoon, May 18. We hope this will be the first of many musical programs. The Saturday craft project, "Making Folded Paper Hand Puppets," will be available all day. Linda Hughes "Handmade Gifts for Hospice" has been rescheduled to May 31. Monday's movie on May 21 is "She wore a Yellow Ribbon."

I can't wait to get back out to the garden. Everywhere I walk there are plants and borrowed ideas, memories of all the shared thinnings over many years, now great patches of perennials or shrubs. My garden is not manicured but it makes me smile and it feels like home.