Guerrilla gardener plans 15,000 daffodils Islandwide

Melly Meadows, inspired by her personal struggles with lupus, wants to plant the bulbs ahead of spring.

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On Sunday, Tisbury resident Melly Meadows McCutcheon, with help from two friends, planted dozens of daffodil bulbs in the raised islands of the Vineyard Haven Post Office parking lot.

Meadows, who wants to plant 15,000 bulbs in total across the Vineyard, is one week into her efforts for this season.

She says that she planted 8,000 bulbs last year, and part of the Tisbury resident’s goal is to see the yellow blooms in locations across Martha’s Vineyard come springtime. For now, Meadows is primarily focusing on sites in Vineyard Haven.

Meadows refers to her efforts in public spaces as “‘guerrilla gardens,'” though she has also planted daffodils at her residence in Vineyard Haven.

Her vision for a more floral Vineyard is inspired by ongoing health struggles, as well as her past career as an actress and international brand spokesperson.

“I hope that when [people] see this in the spring, that they’re going to say, ‘Oh, that’s really cool, we need to get more daffodils on the Island,” Meadows said on Sunday.

Meadows, originally from Clayton County, Ga., worked in the 1990s as a spokesperson for Coca-Cola, representing its Georgia Coffee brand in the role of Scarlett O’Hara from the film “Gone with the Wind.” While working for Coca-Cola, Meadows met with multiple heads of state and dignitaries, and worked abroad in Japan. She also worked as a ballerina, and as a writer, director, and choreographer of multiple plays.

According to Meadows, at the height of her career, she became ill with systemic lupus erythematosus. The autoimmune disease causes inflammation and tissue damage, and as a result, Meadows contracted pulmonary arterial hypertension; she has also experienced impacts on her heart, brain, muscles, and skin. Meadows has had to give up practicing the performing arts, and still spends much of her time in hospitals as her disease gets more difficult.

“Last year, I was in the hospital 95 days,” said Meadows. Gardening is her relief and passion: “Basically, every time I get out of a hospital, I get back to planting.”

Meadows, who also cited the popular story of Sadako Sasaki — a child with leukemia who folded 1,000 paper cranes — views planting daffodils as a way to reach people and to spread joy outside the performing arts. “Since I can no longer dance, and choreograph big dance numbers, I can plant, and in my heart, it’s as if I’m giving back to the Earth more ballerinas,” Meadows said.

While being interviewed by The Times, Meadows handed out bags of deer-resistant bulbs to multiple passersby.

“[For] everybody who shows up to plant, I say, ‘OK, you’re officially now in the Be Kind Club,” Meadows said.

“If people are interested [in helping], it’d be great,” she added. “We’ve got a lot of bulbs. The idea: We want to try to cover Vineyard Haven, and then grow from here. So this will be like the ground zero for ‘Daffodil Haven,’ and then it’ll spread.”
Apart from planting around the Post Office, on Saturday Meadows planted bulbs in a heart shape on a hill at a Vineyard Haven cemetery.

23 COMMENTS

  1. I’d like to see the stop in west tisbury just before whitings pond and left to go up island and right to down island, that area, on edgartown-west tisbury road that triangle could be packed with bulbs, I’m surprised no one has done that yet in west tisbury.(?)

  2. Melly Meadows, you are an example to us all, spreading light. I hope lots of us will join you in the Be Kind club and make this world a bit more beautiful.

  3. That ‘s interesting.
    In the past the PO has told local volunteers that they cannot do any gardening on federal property.

  4. This is amazing! Thank you so much for making the island more beautiful than it already is! You are making a difference.

  5. So… Is that headline a typo (plan or plant?) or a play on words? Plan vs Plant? Just curious…

    Thanks for the surprise issue of MV Times today. Hope everyone is well. Happy to see the byline on this story!

  6. I love this story and MMM’s passion for giving. She is inspirational and kind. Her energy is infectious. Kudos to her and the planting team!

  7. A few years ago, I remember some good souls planting along the VH Post Office. Then someone “official” said whoever planted it had to take it out!, I hope such a move does not happen again. Maybe the this time it might be different.

    • The post office is a place where we all pass and it’s a central location for the island. The workers deserve the joy as much as the people. If ordered to remove them, I will ask for people to help protest. Of all the places where we need kindness the most it’s within our government and nation.

  8. Nantucket has a daffodil festival every spring which I’ve never gotten to see/attend. As I understand, they have 1000’s of the bulbs in bloom all over the island in April. Imagine us having the same kind of joyous display here. What a lovely thing to do for your home, Melly. I’m available to help out!

    • We need help to get the bulbs planted. Jane Chandler at “The Beach House” on Main Street has bulbs that I left with her that need to get planted in down town Vineyard Haven. As for the daffodil festival on Nantucket … we have to beat Nantucket! Don’t think I haven’t already thought about this. I think the Vineyard should have the “Be Kind Daffodil Festival”

  9. Daniel Greenman met me only once and I was wet and covered in dirt planting in the rain. He politely introduced himself and asked if he could write a story about the guerrilla gardens. I am in awe by the depth of his understanding of who I am and his understanding of my passion for planting. He is wise beyond his years! I am humbled by his thoughtful and well written article. I have tried to explain to people how planting and seeing the blooms dance in the wind has helped to fill a hole and longing in my heart that I have had since i am no longer able to dance or produced large community musicals. Mr. Greenman has captured the profound symbolism between my former life as a choreographer and now as a gardener. I like that he called me “Meadows”. It IS the right name for who I am today. Thank you Daniel Greenman!

  10. Melly is the very epitome of KINDNESS, we can all take a page from her book!
    If we want to make the world a better place, we should look around and see what kind of kind acts we can do.
    Keep up the good work!

  11. I want to confirm here that Melly is the real deal. She is our neighbor
    and not only has a beautiful garden at her house, but also guerilla planted
    some bulbs at all her neighbors houses in Tisbury. Thank you SO MUCH Melly! you
    are a brilliant gracious and kind light in the darkness and we Love you. ❤️ ❤️

  12. Melly is an inspiration to so many people,
    as she brings persistence, hard work, and wonderful artistic creativity to everything she does. And she loves flowers, and loves helping people. Her beautiful spirit shines brightly for all who will (if they are lucky) meet her and get to know her, and when they see the results of her bulb planting and guerilla gardening this spring. Happy anniversary!

  13. I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
    BY WILLIAM WORDSWORTH

    I wandered lonely as a cloud
    That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
    When all at once I saw a crowd,
    A host, of golden daffodils;
    Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
    Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

    Continuous as the stars that shine
    And twinkle on the milky way,
    They stretched in never-ending line
    Along the margin of a bay:
    Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
    Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

    The waves beside them danced; but they
    Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
    A poet could not but be gay,
    In such a jocund company:
    I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
    What wealth the show to me had brought:

    For oft, when on my couch I lie
    In vacant or in pensive mood,
    They flash upon that inward eye
    Which is the bliss of solitude;
    And then my heart with pleasure fills,
    And dances with the daffodils.

  14. What a beautiful gift to the community! Anticipating a spring visit to see this Vineyard to view this spectacular burst of beauty and abundance of kindness! Daffodils have always been the first sign of spring which I find uplifting every year! Melly Meadows thank you for you hard work and dedication to add a little beauty to the lives of others!!! Daniel, thanks for the article! Looking forward to the photographs in the spring!!!

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