Vineyard Gardens blends art with its flowers

Jewelry maker Linda Shapiro with examples of her work on display at Vineyard Gardens. — Photo by Chris Wiley

On Friday evenings throughout August, the beautiful flowers, shrubs, and vines of West Tisbury’s Vineyard Gardens nursery have sprung to life in a new way with the addition of local artwork and music. The Gallery in the Garden series will have one final show for 2012 this Friday, Aug. 31.

“A garden is very much like an art, so combining it with art was natural,” said manager Chris Wiley in a recent interview with The Times. “When designing a garden, you base it on different colors and textures. It takes an artist to design a really beautiful garden.”

Each week 9 to 12 local artists have set up stations throughout two of the nursery’s five acres, and, together with art director Karen Blackerby and Vineyard Gardens employees, have worked to display their art creatively on the façades of buildings and greenhouses and along paths through the nursery.

Each display is carefully coordinated so that the different colors and styles fit the floral surroundings. The plants create paths from station to station and become one with the art at spots like Linda Shapiro’s jewelry display, where potted flowers create a U-shaped entrance to the gold-clothed table holding her work.

At pottery stations, passion-flower vines and hanging flowers trail through the bowls and vases. Featured plants include pink mandevilla vines, hydrangeas, begonias, blue mist shrubs, and beetlebung trees.

Guests meander through the gardens and artwork from 5 to 8 pm, enjoying hors d’oeuvres and the sounds of local musicians. This week Bob Hammond and Tom Hodgson of The Flying Elbows will create a bluegrass backdrop for the evening.

“The shows have been wonderful. The gardens are so beautiful and serene at that time of day with the soft lighting and cool air… It is such a great combination of art, flowers, and live music that everyone loves,” said Ms. Blackerby.

Ms. Wiley, who is the nursery’s horticultural expert, told The Times the response from gallery-goers has been “mind-bogglingly positive.” “I think the success comes from a combination of the art with the flowers and with the hors d’oeuvres and music, and the fact that it’s outside. Being outside makes all the difference; there’s plenty of space, and no one is tripping over each other to see a piece,” Ms. Wiley said, adding, “It’s just a nice Vineyard gathering. Everyone is so pleasant and happy to be there, especially the artists.” She hopes to recreate the series next summer.

This Friday’s gallery will showcase the paintings of local artists Lanny McDowell, Daryl Alexander, Tara Gayle, Joan Spillman, Teresa Yuan, Gabrielle Whitcombe, and Enos Ray, the photography of Matthew Goethals and Dawn Barnard, Laurie Schreiber’s pottery, and Linda Gifford-Skladzien’s jewelry.

The Gallery in the Garden, Friday, Aug.31, 5 to 8 pm, Vineyard Gardens, West Tisbury. For information, call 508-693-8511 or go to