Tara Gayle

Photo by Christine Sargologos

Tara Gayle’s imaginative gardens provide storybook-like inspiration for gardeners across the Cape and Islands

There’s a reason all the best fairy tales begin in a garden. J.M. Barrie’s classic young protagonist, Peter Pan, starts his adventures in Neverland as a whimsical boy gallivanting through Kensington Gardens in London. Today, a statue of the beloved character stands watch over all the daring children that make their way through the gardens.

While this is a far more expansive landscape than one might find in the front yard of a Vineyard cottage, Barrie captures the adventurous nature that a fabulous garden can evoke and the imaginative spirit that successful gardeners must capture. Tara Gayle, owner of Gayle Gardens on Martha’s Vineyard, could be considered the 21st century embodiment of the type of childhood fantasy that Barrie portrayed. As an art enthusiast and passionate botanist, Gayle fully understands the magic that the perfect garden can inspire, and has dedicated herself to cultivating this spirit through creative garden projects.

A New Yorker turned islander, Gayle draws from her education in art history and her foundation as a student and member of the New York Botanical Garden. “I feel most passionate when I’m learning, whether it be in the field or through ongoing classes and intensives. As soon as one season comes to a close, I can’t wait for the following spring when all the efforts of the previous season emerge again stronger than the year prior,” she says. As an enthusiastic gardener and dedicated student, Gayle understands that the best gardens are never stagnant. “We continue to work with our clients throughout the season to ensure the health and longevity of their investments,” she explains.

Working on Martha’s Vineyard can be tough. “We are at the mercy of the boats and the short season that leaves as quickly as it came,” Gayle says, but there’s also a lot of opportunity to let creativity shine, adding to and expanding on the natural allure of the island. “Working on Martha’s Vineyard affords me the privilege of working with everything from sprawling landscapes in the woods of Chilmark, to ocean-side terraces in Edgartown, to restaurants in downtown Oak Bluffs,” says Gayle. “I have clients located all over the island, and in every town, which allows me to work with different styles and in different environments.”