Heirloom gardens add another dimension to your museum experience. Eye-catching blossoms, fragrant herbs, luscious fruits and rows upon rows of colorful vegetables all vie for your attention, but they're also used regularly by village interpreters for preparing meals in the historic kitchens, dyeing fibers, medicinal preparations as well as decorations and craft projects.
Garden tours with an experienced horticultural interpreter can be arranged throughout the season. Below are some of our more intriguing gardens.
The heirloom garden at Jones Farm (c. 1820, Orleans, N.Y.) contains hardy crops commonly grown in the 19th-century kitchen garden. These vegetables are grown from seed "bred back" to original types. Among the vegetables often grown here are Danvers Half Long carrots, early Jersey Wakefield cabbage and China rose radish.
Just as they did in the 1800s, some of the gardens—both large and small—serve as decorative, yet complementary, elements to the buildings. The Livingston-Backus garden, for example, is laid out in a classical style compatible with the architecture it surrounds: a Federal-style garden house, built in 1826 in Cortland, N.Y., and the main residence, built in Rochester's Third Ward c. 1827-40.
A wisteria-covered pergola stands at one edge of the garden and boxwood-trimmed beds of fruit trees, tulips, bearded iris, tree peonies, phlox, roses, columbine and hosta provide a display of color throughout the growing season.
Another fine example of a formal garden is located behind Hyde House (c. 1870, Friendship, NY). The curvilinear gardens and bricks paths surrounding the octagon-shaped house are derived from plans for romantic landscapes appearing in A.J. Downing's Cottage Residences, published in 1842.
The lilac-rimmed garden features a profusion of colors provided by bearded iris, day lilies, peonies, dianthus, hosta, germander, amaranth, cleome, nicotiana and petunias.
Shakers were well known for the medicinals they produced and their exemplary seed production and sales. A medicinal garden is featured in the yard next to the Shaker Trustees' Building (1839, Sonyea, NY). Bayberry, feverfew, lavender, pot marigold (calendula), rue and sage are but a few of the plants often grown there.
The Children's Garden, introduced in 2002, is the most recent addition to the museum's horticultural program. Located in front of MacArthur House (1834, York, N.Y.), the 14' x 14' garden features annual, biennial and perennial flowers typically grown in the early 1800s.
It includes interpretation based on 19th-century documentation of how such gardens were used to help children understand plants, their names, forms and growth habits.
GCVM is open 10 am-4 pm Tues.-Sun.
Closed Mondays except for May 27, Sept. 2 & Oct. 14