The Middleville and District Museum sits in an idyllic setting in the heart of Lanark Highlands. It is flanked by stately trees. The yard boasts an old apple tree that still bears delicious fruit in late summer. A sprinkling of bird houses provide a welcome space for feathered friends. Of course, being part of the Highland landscape means lots of hills and rocks. The surrounding fields are home to a herd of cattle and our favourite neighbourhood team of Clydesdales, Bonhomme and P'tit Guy. Several picnic tables provide visitors a shady rest stop. The expansion of the Museum grounds last season inspired plans for future flower beds and other interesting features. The installation of a pair of old doors on the end of the Museum, last year, laid the groundwork for a country motif. Plans for a farming vignette will take shape this season. Be sure to check it out when you visit the grounds. A rock garden will be planted with traditional flowers to provide a pop of colour on the hillside.
The landscape is indeed inspirational. One of the Museum's volunteers, Mary Beth, loves to garden and she was inspired by the Museum and its surroundings.
The following is Mary Beth's vision:
When I first discovered the Middleville Museum, I was impressed by the displays and the familiar names that took me back in time. I was so excited to make this wonderful discovery in my own back yard. After exploring the past, I left the building and walked the property along the split rail fence, seeing the neighbouring cows and horses, the lilacs and the meadow. All these brought back memories of my childhood on the farm.
Because I was captivated by the Museum, I volunteered to work there and help maintain the memories of those strong pioneers who had the courage to start over again. The inside displays are imaginative and have stories to tell and I thought wouldn’t it be wonderful to bring some of that to the outdoors. Just imagine, there could be wild roses and sunflowers along the split rail fence. Birdhouses built by children mounted on the posts and the whole fence line alive with colour, fragrance and birdsong. Then perhaps a scarecrow garden at the corner of the property – children could design and dress the scarecrows. Then after they visit the scarecrows, they could run along the paths cut through meadow grass, climbing on rocks and hay bales.
Picture a Memory Garden planted with flowers and shrubs rescued from the homesteads, or perhaps planted by an ancestor in a spot on the grounds. We could label the plant recognizing who owned it and where it was grown. What a wonderful way to honour our pioneer grandmothers, who always found time to plant flowers. We could plant a heritage vegetable and herb garden surrounded by rail fencing. The plants and herbs would all be labeled to describe them and explain how they are used and stored. Then to have a large flower garden beside the Museum. The garden could be perennial and grow wonderful old plants like daisies, black-eyed Susans, phlox, columbine, hollyhocks and asters. There could be a walkway through the flowers with a bench for a visitor to sit and just breathe. Perhaps a willow trellis covered with climbing roses or ivy or morning glories- someplace beautiful to stop and take a picture. The perfect way to complete any visit to the Museum could be to roam around the yard. What a wonderful, magical place to spend an afternoon. I have big dreams for the Middleville Museum yard and with the support of the volunteers and the community we can do it. It all starts with one small seed.
If you share Mary Beth's love of gardening, consider joining us in our planting projects, this season. Contact us through our social media, e-mail, telephone or just drop by when we're open. Hope to see you soon, trowel in hand.
This journal is written, researched, and maintained by the volunteers of the Middleville Museum.