It might not have been perfect gardening weather as the snow flakes danced out of the sky on Monday morning but there was no denying the enthusiasm and green-thumb sense of the Friends of the Wellington Heritage Museum on the village’s Main Street.
The group announced they are getting ready to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty as they celebrate a new heritage garden that will transform the grounds of the museum and a install a beautiful new element to the village’s core.
The garden in the space behind the museum will commemorate the village of Wellington’s rich and vibrant history—from its Quaker legacy, to its proud agricultural roots and celebrated standing at the forefront of Canada’s bygone canning industry.
Scheduled for completion in 2018, the garden is designed by Terra Vista Landscape Firm, who will also be completing the first phase of work on the garden which includes the installation of a brick and limestone pathway, tree planting, new sod and garden bed preparation.
The completed garden will also feature heritage plantings, benches featuring a design thought to be unique to the Wellington area, along with a commemorative sculpture.
Friends group member and garden project champion Cheryl Douglas called Monday’s announcement and ceremonial groundbreaking the start of a “realization of a dream” and “gift to the museum and the Wellington community.”
Douglas explained to those gathered the Friends’ goal initially was to make good and attractive use of an underutilized green space at the rear of the building at 290 Main Street.
“But over time we saw the possibility of extending the museum out of doors by including in the garden reminders of the museum’s Quaker heritage and of the rich history of the Wellington and Hillier area,” Douglas said.
It’s hoped the garden will provide peaceful refuge out of the hustle and bustle of Wellington’s Main Street summertime crowd as well as a potential venue for concerts, performances and talks.
“We look forward to sharing this space with the community and thank the community for words of encouragement and financial support that helped bring the vision closer to reality,” Douglas added.
The garden’s heritage plantings, nineteenth-century benches and sculpture will be a nod to Wellington’s past while creating an open, inviting and reinvigorated space for the community to enjoy in the years ahead.
Speaking on behalf of County council, Wellington councillor Jim Dunlop explained while the County might not always have the money or expertise to undertake certain enhancement projects, having dedicated and valued partners like the Friends group help fill in the cracks to make the community a better and more vibrant place.
“This project is going to be very positive for the county as a whole, it certainly enhances the museum and gives us just one more thing to offer this community,” Dunlop added.
Museum advisory committee member and Sophiasburgh councillor Bill Roberts added that while volunteerism comes with various challenges, what took place Monday was evidence that volunteerism is alive and well in Prince Edward County and this garden would not only preserve but celebrate the heritage of a historic village like Wellington and it was all due to the efforts of Museum staff and the volunteers.
“Being part of the museum advisory committee and hearing some of the briefings, I know it’s been an incredible effort in terms of planning and fundraising to make this garden possible and the Friends have done it and done it very well,” Roberts added.
Local businesses and organizations that have contributed generously to the Friends’ garden project to date include the County Real Estate Company, Huff Estates Winery, the Rotary Club of Wellington, Scotiabank, Sidestreet Gallery, St. Andrew’s Anglican Church, Sybill Frank Gallery, the Wellington and District Business Association and the Wellington Pharmacy.
“The museum’s backyard has always held so much potential,” added head curator Jennifer Lyons. “It’s exciting to see the transformation on the horizon, becoming a living garden where past and present meet. It will provide an array of experiences for the public, a landing spot for quiet contemplation but also a colourful venue for outdoor education, programming and entertainment. We are so appreciative of the Friends of Wellington Heritage Museum’s efforts to add this meaningful feature to our museum and to our community.”