Which Plants Should I Plant on Martha’s Vineyard?



In her story Making a Garden for Changing Climes, gardener Abigail Higgins outlines the need for a sustainable, resilient property. Here are some resources for getting started:

Best Plants for Martha’s Vineyard:

oxydendrum, tilia, boxwood, Ilex crenata ‘Steves,’ lacecap and oakleaf hydrangeas, hostas, Christmas ferns, dwarf clethra, mukdenia. 

Hypericum, viburnum, platycodon, Asclepias tuberosa, Elsholtzia stantonii, digitalis, achillea, several coreopsis cvs, echinops, gaura, heuchera, lavender, abelia, rosa ‘Knockout,’ several geraniums cvs, phlox, sporobolus, miscanthus, panicum, aronia, iris.

Dinnerplate hibiscus hybrids, rose of Sharon, muhlenbergia, perovskia, rosemary, sedum, ceratostigma, nepeta, salvia, heliopsis, Vaccinium corymbosum, caryopteris, ornamental oregano, Symphyotrichum ericoides, ‘Purple Dome,’ & ‘October Skies’

Further Reading 

C. Colston Burrell: “Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants;” “Woodland Gardens;” (more titles in Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s gardening series)

C.L Fornari: “A Garden Lover’s Martha’s Vineyard”

William Cullina: “Native Trees, Shrubs, & Vines

Rick Darke: “The American Woodland Garden;” Darke/Douglas Tallamy “The Living Landscape

Ken Druse: “The Natural Habitat Garden

Richard Hartlage, Sandy Fischer: “The Authentic Garden

David MacKenzie: “Perennial Ground Covers

Piet Oudolf, Noel Kingsbury: “Planting: a New Perspective;” Oudolf/ Henk Gerritsen: “Planting the Natural Garden

Thomas Rainer, Claudia West: “Planting In a Post-Wild World

Douglas Tallamy: “The Nature of Oaks;“Bringing Nature Home”

Keith and Spongberg: “The Flora of Martha’s Vineyard,” 

“Island Life” 

More Island Resources

Polly Hill Arboretum (see their great page about fertilizer regulations)

Native Plant Trust

Vineyard Conservation Society Almanac 

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Abigail Higgins
Abigail Higgins
Abigail Higgins is a landscape designer and writer: “My travel daydream is to get to Painted House Beach three times with my family, friends, and especially my grandson from Virginia.”

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  1. Abigail Higgins’ garden article is excellent. I have some concerns about the separately provided list of “best plants for Martha’s Vineyard.”
    Miscanthus? The gardener has two choices, one of which is on Massachusetts’ invasive plant list and the other of which (M. sinensis) has been documented in the records of the Polly Hill Arboretum herbarium to have escaped from cultivation in every Vineyard town plus Chappaquiddick.
    Ilex crenata is proving itself to be invasive in moist areas on Martha’s Vineyard. Visit the Sheriff’s Meadow Sanctuary to see probably thousands of the plants, which SMF has battled mightily to control. The Sheriff’s Meadow Sanctuary isn’t the only place on MV where this species has run rampant.
    Viburnum and Iris: Each genus contains two species native to MV that make good garden plants, but each genus also includes a species widely regarded as invasive: V. dilatatum and I. pseudoacorus, both of which have demonstrated aggressive growth on MV
    Boxwood sustainable? It sustains the burlap industry. If you would like to see more burlap lining the streets in winter, plant more boxwood.
    The Polly Hill Arboretum has a list of suitable plants for use in Vineyard gardens. Biodiversity Works has an excellent program that offers help to make your garden environmentally friendly.

  2. Hi Greg.
    Thank you so much for pointing these out. It looks like via an editing error, the wrong version of Abigail’s list got posted, so I will be taking out the plants you mentioned (and that she had edited out of her version). And you’re right about Polly Hill’s resources- which we have in our “Other Island resources” at the end of the story. You sound really knowledgeable about this, and I’d love to have you consider contributing if you’d like. You can reach me at jamie@bluedotliving.com


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