The gardens at the Cole Harbour Heritage Farm Museum have evolved continuously since the museum opened in 1976. Although the property has been farmed since the later part of the 18th century, no attempt has been made to recreate any particular era or historical pattern. Instead, the gardens incorporate both old and new. Heritage varieties of plants rescued from old Cole Harbour farms grow side by side with newer varieties donated or acquired by museum members and garden volunteers. They are situated according to their growing needs and the patterns of use of the museum as a whole and in ways that maximize the number of species, flowering seasons, and potential uses. Practices vary with the experience of the volunteers but are generally benign and non–intrusive.
The garden has natural areas where wildflowers grow undisturbed and birds and insects go about their day to day activities, as well as more intensively used areas which provide greens and vegetables for the museum’s tea room. Traditional implements and methods are incorporated daily but staff and volunteers also enjoy the freedom to new try new things, such as straw bale and palate gardening. The garden is interpretive, nostalgic, practical and experimental all at the same time. Visitors to the garden are encouraged to stroll at their leisure or sit and enjoy the sights and sounds. This may include exploring the riot of colour in our wonderful floral borders (maintained by volunteers of the Dartmouth Horticultural Society) or even the plea of a nearby sheep if you find yourself near the kale patch!