Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wildseed packets

A young artist, Laura Thorton created the artwork for these some years back, I've not had the time to design a display for them until now - many thanks to Anne Sutherland and the painting of my truck, Charlene, I now have a display and they will be on counter tops of Nantucket stores this season.
They were designed to create a small balanced garden for homeowners and contain some Nantucket native seed, some seed native to America that balance the garden and are not invasive on Nantucket.

The pink is Nantucket indigenous Hibiscus palustris, Eupatorium purpureum, Ascelpias incarnata, and non indigenous Echinacea purpurea and Monarda fistulosa

The blue consists of Nantucket native Iris Versicolor, Lupinus perennis, Aster novae-angliae, and non indigenous Lobelia siphilitica.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


This is a great painting of my beloved Charlene. Thank you to Anne Sutherland ( of the eat your garden poster carrots fame)

Charlene is my "flower truck" a 1953 chevy, named for the mad fellow i bought her from - Charlie.

I loved my Grandfathers '53 Chevy truck, when I was 8  he promised that  it would be mine when I grew up. We both got a bit busy and just forgot that promise - but somewhere in my childs heart that love never ended. When I began to sell cut flowers on Main Street the whole memory returned - woe, I had just bought land, built a house, planted an acre and was subsisting and rice and lentils - and where on earth would I find one anyway?

Racing down 195  in my friend Lens van loaded with our findings from a great nursery visit and hoping to get to the boat in time - Len napping for a hot date when we got back - what should be in front of me? Charlene! booking a pretty good clip - and a FOR SALE sign in the rear window - my heart racing I caught up - no phone number - argh - so I just forced him off the road.

Len woke up with a mild grumble ... we test drove it, looked under the hood (he knows as much as I do looking under a hood - 0) oh, this was agony - to have found the truck, and a good one,  and no money geeeeeeeeeessss - Len, dearheart that he is pulled out his check book and gave Charlie a deposit - knocked my sox off.

Story already too long - so Marcia bought her - dearheart that she is, lent her to me, I had body work done, repaint, new bed and one day finally she was mine.

The young women who drive Charlene to town each summer are thrilled to meet such a grand lady (on occasion bodacious broad - look at those curves!) learn to drive an automobile that has a real personality, and she keeps purring along - we pray.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Nantucket Spring

I used to believe that spring on Nantucket was the 3rd week of May, followed by summer the first on June. But those were my early years and my eye had not attuned to the subtlety  of this island. Nantucket is a "Zen" visual - subtle is the theme, meditate, look closely, learn to appreciate the small changes, soft coloring of this short grass Prairie that has found a home surrounded by ocean.

This is  Scrub Oak in "bloom' and tender pink leaf, ground cover is Huckleberry is bright spring leaf.

We have several "Springs" on Nantucket.  This weekend we celebrate Daffodil Days - a gracious Garden Club several years back began planting thousands of Daffodils about the roadways - one of the few flowering plants the deer do not eat - and they cheer us in this odd season when the mainland is warming and we stay cool due to ocean temperatures.  As in many places, we gardeners have imported bits of Spring - Tulips, Hyacinth, Daffodils, Scilla, English Bluebells etc.  As well as our lawn grasses, and flowering trees - I enjoy almost all of them - Nantucket is a very grey and rather drear place through winter and the color and movement is wonderful.

However - I always keep in mind what I look for as indicators of the real Nantucket Spring - when the Shad bloom!  Shad is the local name given to the Amelanchier species - it blooms at the same time that the Shad ( River Herring) are running - when the fish run upstream to lay their eggs.

We have several varieties on Amelanchier on island - most notably is our very own  Amelanchier nantucketensis  - a State listed species of special concern forms thin shrubby thickets primarily at roadsides.  I moved some a few years ago as part of the Old South Road bike path - wanted to propagate them for backup, but it was a busy season for me and I felt great sending them to New England Wildflowers new nursery knowing they would be well cared for by the pros.  All the transplants have survived.

Our other most visible Shad is the Amelanchier canadensis - larger, tree forms look like clouds that have settled down over the landscape as you drive out the Madaket road looking toward Head of the Plains.  They only last about  a week as storms blow the petals - but it is a beautiful week.

I have several planted on my property so I'm sure to know when the true Nantucket Spring has arrived.

Pictures are now above - a few blogs.

Those Fields

Fields of grass - this color mosiac is true to life Nantucket grasses - note the swath design nature has given us.

Asclepias syriaca, common Milkweed
 in Madaquesham Valley - oh the fragrance!

So once  Spring actually gets underway, I start dreaming of the lovely fields we enjoy on our little island.

The ox-eyed daisy is a favorite of mine. not indigenous, can be a problem in sensitive areas where rare native plants need the space. 
 It seems most places I have lived that the wild daisy has been a staple - in college it was our standard bouquet for all events, I use them on our Flower Truck in June before the Shastas come in.

This "drift" of Daisy is a natural distribution - growing between Little Bluestem grass and other native grasses and forbs.

This pattern is a common plant distribution on Nantucket - drifts, waves of a particular plant - and if one is planting a meadow it should be considered.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Nantucket Beacon

Ah, remember the days of the Beacon?  Great photos by Rob Benchley.

So many of these old articles I can only access from print copies I  have saved - sorry for the poor reproduction quality - you can click on these to make them readable.