By Perry Mathewes, Deputy Director, Museum Operations and Director of Gardens
One of the great things about working in the MSV Gardens is that you get to spend lots of time around beautiful plants and nature. Yes, there is the drudgery of weeding, mulching and other mundane tasks, but there are also sublime moments as you work. In fact, the garden is a feast for the senses – seeing the glisten of morning dew on a jewel-toned flower, smelling the fragrance of a sweet-smelling shrub wafting into your path, hearing the wind rustle the leaves overhead during a quiet moment, feeling the softness of moss on a stone, tasting the sweetness of a white alpine strawberry in the vegetable garden.
However, there is more to our Gardens and Trails than just plants. The whole place is inhabited by a wide variety of animals from tiny insects to large deer. Birds, bees and butterflies are easily found, but an observant person can also encounter a variety of other insects, fish, foxes, raccoons, possums, and much more. As a result, I try to carry my camera through the garden as often as I can. I’ve been privileged to record many of these animals as they go about living their lives. So in the spirit of our upcoming National Geographic Photo Ark exhibition, here are a selection of a very few of my favorites moments with some of our MSV residents.
The next time you come to the Garden for a visit or take a walk on our Trails, make sure you bring your camera. You never know what you will see.
A bee takes flight in the Vegetable Garden.
A monarch caterpillar munches on a milkweed leaf in the Spring Garden.
A chipmunk grooms itself near the greenhouse.
Our resident cows are interested in what the gardeners are doing.
A young fawn waits patiently for its mother under a bottlebrush buckeye near the Perennial Garden.
A great blue heron and a Limousin goose enjoy the morning sun at the Town Run headwaters.
A great horned owl surveys the Grand Allee from a Scotch elm.
A red-shouldered hawk enjoys breakfast near the Jasmine Allee.
A gray squirrel balances on dogwood twigs near the Carriage House.
A clouded sulphur butterfly nectars on a zinnia in the Parterre.
A tree swallow looks for insects on the Trails.
Perry Mathewes is the deputy director of museum operations and director of gardens at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley. Mathewes provides a vision for and oversees the stewardship and development of the museum gardens and grounds, including the rehabilitation of the Glen Burnie Gardens and the creation of new garden spaces as outlined in the Museum’s Master Plan. He leads all MSV horticultural initiatives and oversees expansion of garden-related educational programming and research.
Mathewes has more than 25 years of experience in the museum and public garden field. Previously he was education program manager and interim director of education and communications for Norfolk Botanical Garden. In that role he oversaw visitor programs; produced interpretive and educational materials and programs; edited the organization’s website and member magazine; presented classes, lectures, and workshops; and developed and managed a streaming video system to view a bald eagle nest in the garden.