Institute opens Civil War garden at Monterey Pass Battlefield Park Museum

John Irwin
Waynesboro Record Herald

A new Civil War garden is now open and operational to teach visitors to Monterey Pass Battlefield Park Museum about growing food in the mid-1800s.  

The grand opening of The Institute’s Civil War era garden was held on Saturday, May 21, at the garden site near the Monterey Pass Battlefield Museum. 

"The Friends of Monterey Pass Battlefield Park and Museum are extremely pleased to be able to partner with the Institute in this endeavor, they have been fantastic to work with," said Darwin Seiler, board member of the Friends of the Monterey Pass Battlefield Park, speaking about the Waynesboro nature and history education group. "The garden enhances our ability to fulfill our goal of preserving and interpreting, not only the battle, but the impact the pass has had on our nation's history since the 1730s."

The Institute’s Director of Education, Pamela Hind Rowland wielded the scissors at Saturday’s ribbon cutting, officially opening the newly installed Civil War Era Garden at Monterey Pass. Members of The Institute’s board and staff, Friends of the Monterey Pass Museum and Battlefield board members, project partner Jim Rock, President of GRC General Contractor Inc. and Franklin County Commissioner Robert Ziobrowski were joined by museum visitors for the celebration.

Construction on the $9,000 project started in August. Original plans were to have the garden open by September, but due to supply chain issues, the opening was delayed.

According to Pam Rowland, director of education at The Institute, the plan is to use the Civil War-era garden to help visitors and school groups understand and visualize what a garden would have looked like in the 1860s and the care that came along with it. 

The locust wood perimeter of the garden measures 25 by 28 feet, and when completed will feature six raised beds and a flower bed. 

A locust wood fence was installed to house the garden in September of 2021 behind the museum.

The contents of the garden are indicative of what would have been planted in a home garden during the Civil War era that would have culinary or medicinal uses. 

"Many were used as home remedies, and were also used by doctors to treat soldiers during the Civil War. Many of these plants are still used today," said Tracy Holiday executive director of the Institute. "Among those especially related to the lives of soldiers are onions, used by marching troops to prevent scurvy and treat coughs and colds, sage for treatment of wounds, valerian for use as a sedative and lamb’s ears, valued for its antibacterial and antiseptic properties and to stanch bleeding and dress wounds."

Raised flower beds house 27 varieties of plant at the newly opened Civil War garden.

Rowland said that The Institute will be offering public programs for adults and children, and it will be used during school programs. 

"We look forward to welcoming the general public as well as visiting groups as the garden comes to life," Holiday said. 

The Institute's garden will also have an interpretive publication for those who wish to take a self-guided tour of the area. 

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"There will be ongoing maintenance, establishing the garden is just the beginning. The Institute will oversee the maintenance of the garden along with the Blue Ridge Summit Garden Club," Holiday said. "Visitors have expressed appreciation for the sturdy and aesthetically beautiful fence surrounding the garden, the beauty of the plants within and the educational value of learning their connections to the lives of typical 19th century residents."

The Museum is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April through October.

"Our grounds, including the garden and hiking trails with interpretive signage, are open dawn to dusk," Seiler said. "Special tours can be arranged by contacting our website."

The Museum at Monterey Pass is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April through October.

Sponsors of the project are M&T Charitable Foundation, Younger Toyota and GRC Inc., who served as the project lead and made an in-kind donation. 

For more information, visit The Institute’s website at natureandcultureinstitute.org, call 717-762-0373 or email info@natureandcultureinstitute.org. Visit the Monterey Pass Battlefield Park Museum's website at montereypassbattlefield.org.