In The Garden – Hydrangeas

by: Lucy Apthorp Leske

Mal Condon and Frank Dutra are addicts. Behind some knotty pines off Madaket Road, this enterprising pair of regular guys is busy building an unusual business: propagating, growing, selling and shipping hydrangeas. At a time when Nantucket’s agriculture industry – which once dominated the island’s landscape – pales in comparison to the building boom and tourist economy, these two fellows are indulging an addiction to, well, flowers, and trying to make a buck in the process.

Someone was bound to do it. While local nurseries have been selling hydrangeas to gardeners and landscapers on Nantucket since the early 20th century when they were first introduced to the landscape trade, few locals have ventured into the propagation business. To be fair, Sue Slosek at Moors End Farm on Polpis Road has been propagating hydrangeas for years and offers an impressive array of plants as part of her family’s nursery business. The late Nantucket nurseryman, Russell Pope, was among the first to offer hydrangeas for sale on Nantucket and was known for propagating plants in his greenhouses off Cliff Road.