Garden Photo of the Day

Gardening on Martha’s Vineyard

Deer and turkeys and poor soil don't stop this gardener

My name is Fran. My husband and I live on Martha’s Vineyard, an island off the coast of Massachusetts. I have gardened most of my life but have intensely gardened since I retired four years ago. Most of my flower beds are partly or fully shaded, and there is a large population of deer and wild turkeys on the island. The deer eat many “deer-resistant” plants, and the turkeys dig up small plants. The sandy and clay soil is also a challenge. But I enjoy gardening immensely! These photos were taken over two years and during spring and summer.

lupinesOne of Fran’s spring flower beds, with blooming lupines (Lupinus polyphyllus, Zones 2–7) and foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea, Zones 4–8), among other perennials.

Big leaved hydrangeaBigleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla, Zones 5–9) with big masses of pink flowers. This shrub is a classic for island and seaside gardens, as it is tolerant of salt spray and likes the moderate temperatures during the winter.

Purple coneflowersPurple coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea, Zones 3–9), flowers well-loved by gardeners and pollinators alike, produce seeds that goldfinches and other birds love to eat once the flowers fade.

By growing this hosta in a pot on the porch steps, Fran was able to outsmart the deer so far this summer! The potted begonia (annual) in front flowers in the shade all summer.

Another pot, filled with petunias and calibrachoa (both annuals)

More annual pots bring color all summer.

autumn fernThe autumn fern (Dryopteris erythrosora, Zones 5–8) has green foliage in the summer but is especially striking in the spring, when the new growth comes out a beautiful bronze color.

This cultivar of St. John’s wort (Hypericum calycinum ‘Brigadoon’, Zones 5–9) brings bright, chartreuse foliage to the shade garden.


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  1. User avater
    treasuresmom 09/08/2020

    Those coneflowers are fabulous!

  2. User avater
    simplesue 09/08/2020

    Oh you are living my dream! Martha's Vineyard! I love that woodland cultivar of St. John’s wort (Hypericum calycinum ‘Brigadoon’ that you are growing, I have to get one of those for sure, for the woodland area of my garden.
    Your garden is very pretty, and I was so interested in hearing that the island has deer and turkey on it, it just never occurred to me.
    Your hydrangea are so gorgeous and so classically Cape Cod!
    I can't imagine a Cape Cod garden being complete without them.
    I really enjoyed your post, thanks for sharing!

    1. User avater
      simplesue 09/08/2020

      ps...and Oh my your Lupines and Foxgloves are amazing!!!!

  3. cheryl_c 09/08/2020

    I love all the violet, red violet and blue violet spires in the picture of your lupines! I also love Brigadoon- have some in a bed that used to be shady. It still gives fairly good coverage, but doesn't stay as bright green. What I love about it is it's winter color, which is a beautiful burgundy black, and very shiny! Not what you might expect! Good luck against the deer and turkeys! And thanks for sharing.

  4. btucker9675 09/08/2020

    Gorgeous garden! When we lived in Franklin Lakes, NJ, we had a flock of up to 20 turkeys in residence. The toms would block traffic in the early spring, challenging every vehicle to a fight, and when they would come through our property they were NOT careful about trampling plants in their path. : )

  5. SufiaArsala01 09/08/2020

    Everywhere looks beautiful because of the greenery, I love this place, Can you send me your garden video on And I'm very interested to hear that there are deer and turkeys on this island, it never happened to me.

  6. bdowen 09/09/2020

    What a beautiful garden! What are your strategies against the deer and turkeys?

  7. reginamelo 09/18/2020

    Your garden is so beautiful Fran, so colorful. I know about those "dear-resistant" plants... I'm starting believing there is no such a thing :)

  8. Alexbryancj 01/08/2022

    Everywhere looks beautiful because of the greenery, I love this place, Can you send me your garden video on I'm also curious to know that there are turkeys and deer on the island. It isn't something I've ever experienced.

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