Garden Conservancy offers Chilmark garden tour

Main plant species include rhodies, Japanese maples, and hydrangeas, with mountain laurels and tree peonies. —Kristofer Rabasca

The Garden Conservancy announces a Martha’s Vineyard garden tour on Saturday, May 25, from 10 am to 3 pm at 19 Blueberry Ridge Ln. in Chilmark, on the left three miles down North Road toward Menemsha.

The garden is situated on approximately 4.5 acres and was started in 2002, so many of the plantings are still relatively young, according to a press release. The largest, most mature rhododendrons are close to 16 years old. Although the plot was originally heavily wooded and the soil is acidic, the high water table is a problem for growing rhododendrons. The release describes the garden as having species native to this area such as highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum), cinnamon and royal fern (Osmunda cinnamomea and O. regalis), summersweet (Clethra alnifolia), swamp azalea (Rhododendron viscosum), holly and inkberry (Ilex opaca and I. glabra), sheep laurel (Kalmia angustifolia), and a “river” of skunk cabbage along the stream under a canopy of tall pitch pines (Pinus rigida), red and white oak, beetlebung or tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica), and swamp maples (Acer rubrum). The latter two, the release states, have shallow root systems that compete with the plantings for moisture and nutrients. This area is dominated by a 60-foot-tall dawn redwood (metasequoia).

The property includes two manmade ponds with water lilies and water hyacinth. There are lots of frogs, turtles, and a stressed-out goldfish population (predation by otters, ospreys, herons). Main plant species collections include rhodies, Japanese maples, and hydrangeas, with smaller groupings of mountain laurels (mostly from Broken Arrow Nursery) and tree peonies.

There are a substantial number of Dexter rhodies, bred for the maritime Cape Cod climate, many of which are fragrant. In the fenced-in yard behind the house, there are two large herbaceous perennial beds, two mature apple trees, a small grouping of fruit trees, hydrangea row, Satsuki azaleas, mature yak hybrids, kalmia, and several stewartia. The main rhodie plantings total over 1,400 hybrids and species. They extend away from the house along the driveway, a large area near the left of the lower pond, and a smaller grouping on the other side of the pond. The two nurseries on the property contain over 300 seedlings and plants from many sources.

Admission to this garden is $10 per person, and children 12 and under are free. For more information about the garden tour, visit