Forgive us our trespassing: Sneaking around Edgartown on a spring day

Admiring secret gardens ... from the sidewalk, of course.

—Stacey Rupolo

A lot can be said about nosy neighbors. Not a lot of nice things, exactly. But who hasn’t given into the temptation to peer over their neighbor’s fence, or around their hedges, especially at the beginning of springtime, when flowers are popping up to say hello?

Strolling through Edgartown on an early spring afternoon, there is plenty to see. Though many homes still sit empty, awaiting summer occupants, there are garden crews and home gardeners busy at work preparing for a stellar show of summer flowers.

Abigail Higgins, renowned gardener and Times garden columnist, knows many of these properties rather intimately, having worked the soil in many of them. She lead the way on this somewhat unorthodox tour of Edgartown gardens.

If you find yourself walking up from a good ol’ glance at the lighthouse, you’ll notice a patch of Astroturf winding to your right. A well-placed “Private Property” sign seems to discourage walkthroughs, but the stretch of land that runs east to west from the bend in Starbuck Neck Road to Fuller Street is a public way.

While you’re strolling through some very nice backyards, take note of the well-manicured lawns and groomed gardens that run from the path down to the shore line. And don’t forget to look out for the fire hydrant that is not-so-surreptitiously placed in the garden of the second house on the left. While it may not be the best garden ornament, it sure is practical.

When you get to the end of the backyard path, take a left at Fuller Street. There is a tall oak that cuts into the facing stone wall. Nestle your way into the nook and take a peek over the wall for some views of hyacinths and blooming magnolias.

Meandering down Fuller Street gives you a good view of several grand lawns, including the house at the corner of Fuller and Ox Pond Meadow. This front lawn holds a great view of an ivy-skirted tree, which stands guard over daffodils and tulips. Rumor has it that the towering hedges on the left side of the property were planted to block a neighbor’s view of the ocean. (Refer to above about nosy neighbors.)

If you make your way down Fuller toward Cottage and Morse Street, there are plenty of little garden morsels to enjoy. Take a left on Cottage Street to enjoy the meticulous front gardens of 27 Cottage Street. Deep purple tulips fill the trim around the front lawn and walkway.

Continuing back along Cottage Street gives you ample time to admire the diversity of floral expression that can exist on one block — fully planted and manicured lawns, secret shade gardens, an explosion of daffodils, cherry blossoms — and sigh in the glory of spring on Martha’s Vineyard.