One of the major Master Gardener projects in Western Racine County is the design and maintenance of the gardens at the Pioneer cabin in Burlington, WI.
The 1850 log cabin was moved to Wehmhoff Square in downtown Burlington from its Echo Park location and officially opened on July 4, 1999. The Burlington Area Garden Club researched, planned and planted the “Vintage Gardens” which surround the Pioneer Cabin with the help of experts at Old World Wisconsin. The garden has been a master gardener project since 2000.
The log cabin, which is furnished as a post-Civil War farm family home, is open for visitors from May through October on Saturdays, 1-4, for community events and by appointment. The gardens are open all year.
The fenced Kitchen Garden consists of the plants that would have sustained the farmstead by providing fresh produce for the family in season and for the cold winter to come. Vintage seeds were obtained for amaranth, pole and lima beans, beets, cabbage, corn, cucumbers, hops, lettuce, melons, onions, peas, potatoes, pumpkin, rhubarb, squash, tomatoes and turnips.
The Kitchen Garden demonstrates the “three sisters” method of growing corn, squash and beans together. The practice learned from Native Americans used corn stalks to support the climbing beans, while the squash vines covered the ground to provide moisture retention and the suppression of weeds. This method would pass from the scene as new mechanical implements for planting, cultivating, and harvesting became available.
The Vintage Garden represents the plants the early settlers in this area would have known: allium, aster, bittersweet, bleeding heart, cone flower, red currant, daffodil, daylily, elderberry, gooseberry, hollyhock, iris, jack-in-the pulpit, lambs ear, lavender, liatris, lilac, lily of the valley, may apple, monarda, prairie rose, rudbeckia, serviceberry, sweet william and woodruff.
Robert and Margaret Koenecke donated their family heirloom irises to the project. The irises came to Wisconsin from New York in 1844 and with the help of the Koeneckes they were planted around the log cabin.
The Herb Garden includes chives, dill, horseradish, lemon balm, lovage, old thyme, parsley, peppermint, sage, soapwort, basil, dill and horehound.
Since its dedication, Master Gardeners and Garden Club members have maintained the Pioneer Garden gardens. Mary Jane Bates is the current Pioneer Garden project manager.