SHOREHAM — Martha Lapham of Shoreham is modest about her gardens — several plots of brimming flowerbeds, a vegetable garden and various climbing and potted plants. But as unassuming as the longtime gardener may be, the lively blooms on her Shoreham property speak for themselves.
In her 40th year of gardening, Lapham subscribes to one mantra only: to have fun. Her perennial garden, sprinkled with annuals, has flourished for 35 years where, Lapham said, “a lot of the garden just sows itself.” The colorful cottage garden is a mix of Shasta daisies, Chinese forget-me-nots, yellow yarrow, phlox, hollyhocks, larkspur, cone flowers, purple mallow, marguerite daisies and a patch of poppies that were dormant for five years before springing up this summer.
“A garden has a little bit of a mind of its own,” Lapham said.
The most difficult part of gardening, said Lapham, is keeping plants in bloom throughout the summer. Her strategy, though, seems to be working.
“Make it be in bloom for as long as you can by planting plants that have different blossoming cycles,” said Lapham.
Next to the flowerbeds, Lapham keeps a vegetable garden that grows staples like tomatoes, eggplants, French string beans, lettuce and sorrel. Standing guard at her garage are two topiaries shaped like dogs, in honor of her two Cardigan Welsh corgis, and on the back wall of the building climbing hydrangea’s begin their ascent. On the terrace of her house, agave plants twist out of pots — the plants waited out the long winter in Lapham’s basement under a grow light — and miniature Japanese sunflowers potted nearby wait to bloom. Moving down the property, which totals about 115 acres, Dutchman’s pipe and wisteria climb up an arbor attached to an old dairy barn.
Lapham’s variety of flowers and plants seem to be a product of her ever-changing tastes.
“It’s amazing how often you change the plants that you like,” she said. “I’m somebody who likes a lot of a few types of plants.”
Often times Lapham will swap plants with other gardeners, which she said can make gardening a very social experience.
“Gardening is a great pleasure, good exercise and you meet interesting people,” Lapham said.
For anyone looking to begin a garden, Lapham said it’s important to remember that “gardening is a work in progress and never perfect. It’s trial and error.”