August Gardening Tips

by Jane Ahrens

For Mélie’s Gardening Tips post this month we took the opportunity to interview Dave Denison, Hay Harbor Club’s Golf Course Superintendent. Everyone so appreciates all he does in his months on Island and the care he takes in the gardens around HHC (and the daffodil patch on the hill by the school each spring).

Guest Gardener Dave Denison:
“Thank you so much for asking me to talk about the gardens. I love trying to grow nice things and am so fortunate to have the job that I have – and to have members who enjoy the gardens.”

When did you get interested in gardening?
When I was a kid my grandfather, who lived next door, grew beautiful dahlias. I would bring a big bouquet to school to give to my teacher.

How long have you been gardening on Fishers Island?
I started about 25 years ago, around when Hay Harbor put in automatic sprinklers on the greens and tees.

What inspired you to do the gardens on Hay Harbor Golf course?
I noticed that the irrigation on the tee boxes covered a lot of area outside the tee box, and could see that gardens planted there would flourish – full sun every day and plenty of water. I thought it would be interesting to put in vegetables instead of flowering plants that would be more commonly seen on golf courses.

What are the biggest challenges gardening on Fishers Island?
Rabbits and insects.

What do you like most to grow?
Probably corn, although seedless watermelons are pretty good too.

What gardening tips would you like to share?
Like Mélie’s July issue suggested, keep the weeds under control. I am fortunate to have a good assistant on the golf course – I can send him out to mow fairways or tees and spend my own time pulling weeds in the gardens. Also, plant vegetables where they will get sun all day if possible.

What are your favorite sources for plants? Nurseries, Catalogs, etc.?
99% of what we plant is started from seeds. I like Burpees, Park Seed, and Totally Tomatoes.

What else would you like to share with our readers about gardening on Fishers Island?
Our gardens at Hay Harbor are anything but formal – grow what you enjoy and don’t worry if the garden is not perfectly edged or color coordinated. Have fun trying different varieties – new ones come out every year. But keep hold of proven favorites. I have been planting Burpee’s Ambrosia cantaloupes ever since Ray Doyen showed me his melon patch, who knows how many years ago, and have never found a superior variety.

Do you have a favorite flower, tree, vegetable or recipe to share with us?
No recipes, but a few favorite seed varieties: Mirai corn, Maxibel bush green beans, Fortex pole beans, Sweet Treats and Sungold cherry tomatoes, Sweet Success cucumbers. And Asian Pear trees do well – disease and pest resistant, they don’t need spraying.

This spring Dave planted kale at the HHC’s 4th Tee box. It has flourished!
He writes, “I don’t know how many people even like kale!  But it sure is doing well in that spot. Anyone who wants some can stop by the Navy gate and cut off some of it.”


Dave Denison came to Fishers in 1977 as the math teacher at Fishers Island School where he taught until his retirement in 2007.  In addition to his position as HHC Superintendent, he is also a volunteer fireman with the Fishers Island Fire Department, and manages the FI summer softball league. And, if you ever want to know which baseball team is leading in the American League East, just take a glance past the HHC putting green and you will see that team’s flag flying. Dave started doing this when he had a Red Sox fan for a helper, and he likes the Yankees!

Featured Photo

USCG Eagle passing the Race early morning March 18, 2023 on her return from the Chesapeake Bay. Photo Credit Marlin Bloethe

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