Heirloom Gardens
Kitchen gardens, heirloom varieties, and orchards

The Beauty and Function of Our Gardens

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. They are also used regularly by Historic Village interpreters for preparing meals in historic kitchens, dyeing fibers, medicinal preparations, decorations, and craft projects.

Garden tours with an experienced horticultural interpreter can be arranged throughout the season. Please contact our Interpretation Department at (585) 294-8250 or interpretation@gcv.org to learn more!

Jones Farm Garden


The heirloom garden at Jones Farm (c. 1820, Orleans, NY) 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.

Livingston-Backus House Garden

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, NY, 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.

Hyde House Garden

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 landscape architect Andrew Jackson 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.

Shaker Trustees’ Garden

Shakers were well known for the medicines 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.