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.