In my previous life I was more of the museum goer. We lived relatively close to Washington DC and were members of the Smithsonian where we spent many thanksgivings eating in their members cafeteria. But in this iteration of my life as a nearly full time RVer, I seldom do museums preferring to be outside rather than inside. So that is my explanation for putting off visiting the Bennington Museum only 18 miles away, until nearly too late. What a mistake. I should have come on day one and several times over the month.
The museum is wonderful both inside and out. Just Beyond the parking lot is the George Aiken Wildflower Trail, a large woodland garden showing the many native plants and ferns that Aiken, a two term governor of Vermont and 6 term senator, “loved, grew, sold, wrote about and urged others to grow”. This trail is actually a series of connected trails winding through 6 acres of towering pines. I could have spent the entire day there and should have but didn’t want to miss the museum and didn’t want to have to do either on the upcoming week-end.
I love both the idea of this trail and the reality. Though late in summer there are fewer wildflowers blooming, I suspect these trails would be spectacular with the spring wildflowers and the unique benches. More about them to come. These trails were developed and are maintained entirely by volunteers individual and from groups. If I lived in this area I’d volunteer immediately. What a wonderful community treasure.
The next thing unique about these trails are the benches. There are 18 quilt benches along the trail created Jackie Marro. They were wonderful and reminded me of that time in my life when I was a hand pieced quilter as was my Great Aunt Carrie some of whose quilts I have inherited along with her quilting frame and for whom I honored my daughter with her name. She was a beloved figure in my life as her younger sister, my grandmother, died when I was 4.
I know Sue, who is a superior quilter, will enjoy these and the ones to follow.
I was particularly enamored of this bench which uses designs from the Jane Stickle quilt which is owned by the Bennington Museum. From the sign below I learned that it was made during the Civil War by Jane Stickle, a Shaftsbury Vermont farm wife who was an invalid. She embroidered her name and the words “In War Time 1863” on a corner of the 5602 square piece quilt surrounded by a scalloped border. The sign providing this information also said that because the quilt is so fragile it is only exhibited for a short time in the Autumn. I was so very sorry to have missed it but happy to learn all about it and see these patterns.
Even though I have provided all the information I learned from the sign, I include it for the picture of the quilt itself.
On down the path, I’m surrounded by ferns.
I arrive at what I came to call the crow area just beyond this lovely spot for a picnic with the tall flowers around. Look closely in the far background. That’s a crow sculpture.
Under the trellis were the metal crows and the crow quilt bench.
Like the other benches, the crow bench had not only an information card about the quilt pattern but also a poem by a Vermont poet. This one by guess who.
This path was lined by White Snakeroot
Also blooming in the garden while I was here were yellow and pink coneflowers, butterfly weed, Joe Pyeweed, and goldenrod among others.
Among the trails that go off the main one is the Jennings Brook Trail which goes along the brook and through the woods. No time for this unfortunately.
I did take the trail to the Secret Garden which promised logs to sit on, fairy houses to discover and eight butterflies in the trees.
I didn’t find all 8 of the metal butterflies but it was fun searching for them.
They didn’t mention that there were eatable berries on the trail. I was tempted but left them hopefully for a child to discover.
I did spot at least two doors to fairy houses.
Near the end of the trail were pages showing the story The Flight of the Honey Bee.
For sure Celia and Colin would love this and I wish they and their parents were with me. I have spent nearly 2.5 hours enjoying this garden and there is much more to experience but I need to get inside and see what is sure to be a fantastic museum.