Gardens

gristmill-flowersThe site is designed like a slowly unfolding story, with a new delight around every corner. In the Gardens, you will find colorful flowers and other interesting plants, many of which are heritage varieties. A herb garden near the Exhibit Building provides fresh herbs for the Kitchen and nearby an outdoor Summer Kitchen offers the perfect setting to watch demonstrations of heritage cooking and cleaning skills. Venturing into the Upper Field, you will find an orchard featuring over 20 different species of heritage apples, several plots of wheat and other grains (for the mill), as well as, a patch growing the celebrated Zucca Melon, which is known to bear fruit upwards of 150 pounds.

Gardening styles, like fashion change with the times. Victorian tastes favoured diversity and novelty, and the seed companies tempted gardeners alike with an array of varieties. Heritage plants are living artifacts, therefore the site gardens are for both preservation and display.  Seed saving is an important heritage activity. Modern hybrids may not reproduce themselves, however the historic open-pollinated selection reproduce true to seed; successive generations are identical.  Each year seeds are collected for for future plantings – the only way to ensure their survival.  Organic management techniques used at the The Grist Mill are in many ways parallel to farm practices of the last century.  For example, crop rotations, compost, and manures are used to build soil fertility.

This year our seed saving program will be re-invigorated with much effort with focus on purity; come and learn about growing and saving these living treasures or share with us your favourite heirloom plant species!

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