George Aiken Wildflower Trail
At Bennington Museum
“What a wonderful thing it would be if just outside every city or large town there could be established a wildflower preserve.”
– George Aiken
The beautiful Hadwen Woods and George Aiken Wildflower Trail (GAWT) are adjacent to Bennington Museum. The trail showcases the native wildflowers and ferns that George Aiken loved, propagated, and wrote about in his book, Pioneering with Wildflowers. One-third of a mile long, with a 235 foot mid-section connector trail and a few benches along the way, it beckons visitors to take a moment to relax and enjoy the beauty that is Vermont’s alone.
George Hadwen, a long-time Bennington resident and museum trustee, and his wife Marie donated the six-acre Hadwen Woods property to the museum. Volunteers are adding native wildflower and fern gardens to the landscape of indigenous trees and plants along the brook and throughout the paths, woods, and fields. The trail is used as a learning laboratory featuring plant identification markers, printed information about individual plants and other topics of interest to visitors, and educational programming for children and adults. Please be respectful of the surroundings. Leave no litter behind and keep your pets on a leash and pick up after them. The trail is open to the public from dawn to dusk.
The George Aiken Wildflower Trail has been developed and is maintained entirely by the efforts of volunteers.
George Aiken Wildflower Trail: Accomplishments
Since 2009, volunteers have worked to expand the trail network, which now includes a Pine Loop Trail, a Jennings Brook Trail, an Elderberry Trail, a Black Cherry Trail and a meadow. Located in the pine grove and open field, the trail is being developed as an extensive wildflower garden. It features many of the native plants, shrubs, and ferns that George Aiken — a two term Vermont governor and six term U.S. Senator — grew in his nursery at Putney and wrote about in Pioneering with Wildflowers (first published 1935). Volunteers continue to groom the existing trails and create many new ones, remove invasive plants, and establish planting beds with hundreds of wildflowers.
Two stone benches and a stone birdbath were added to the George Aiken Wildflower Trail in 2015. They are the first of what trail workers hope to be a series of unique benches created by Vermont stone artists using Vermont materials such as marble, granite and slate. One of the two existing benches was donated by the Bennington High School Class of 1965. Designed by Steve Benoit and carved by Nelson Craig at Rock of Ages in Barre, VT, the bench is made of native Vermont white granite. The other bench and the birdbath — which were donated by trail workers — are both made from Vermont granite and were created by Frank Sprague of “Stonepuddles” in Wilmington. There were three standard wooden benches along the trails, but the plan is to add unique — not mass produced — stone benches as resting places. The future benches would be purchased from a portfolio of stone artists’ works available at the museum.
The stone benches showcase the work of Vermont stone artists in the woods the same way that the work of other Vermont artists, potters, and furniture makers is featured in the museum galleries. Any Vermont stone artists who has benches suitable for the trail should send pictures and cost information the chair of the Aiken Trail project, Jackie Marro at firstname.lastname@example.org.
George Aiken Wildflower Trail: Ongoing Research and Projects
The development of the George Aiken Wildflower Trail is ongoing. Some of the projects worked on regularly include:
Weeds and Invasives: Identify which invasive species are on our trail and provide facts and photos to make identification easier.
Ferns: Develop a written history of the early fern industry in Vermont including quotes from George Aiken, oral histories from locals who picked ferns for supplemental income, lists of important ferns in the state, and ferns Aiken grew in his nursery in Putney, VT.
Plant Profiling: Inventory the species on the trail and create a spreadsheet with corresponding images and trail map to make locating the plants easier for visitors. Profiles which will include various growth stages, species information, scientific and common names, and references to George Aiken’s book Pioneering with Wildflowers.
Please contact GAWT Jackie Marro at email@example.com. Are you interested in receiving e-mail updates? We are happy to add you to the GAWT e-mail update keeping you posted on the most current happenings, upcoming volunteer days and plant sales. We will NOT SHARE YOUR EMAIL INFORMATION. We respect your privacy!