A Season of Inspiration for Groups at Berkshire Gardens
The Berkshire Hills are a natural destination for groups and specifically for groups that include garden enthusiasts looking for ideas and inspiration or just looking for a fun way to enjoy the great outdoors. On the map for many is the 77-year old Berkshire Botanical Garden, called a “glistening community gem” by Virginia Small, author of Great Gardens of the Berkshires. Berkshire Botanical Garden is in good company; within a short driving distance are seven noted gardens that will both inspire and inform: Ashintully Gardens, The Mission House, Naumkeag, Chesterwood, Hancock Shaker Village, The Mount, Edith Wharton’s Estate and Gardens and The Vincent J. Hebert Arboretum.
Berkshire Botanical Garden features over 20 display gardens on 15 acres and is the region’s center for horticultural education. Extensive perennial and annual display gardens, a children’s garden, rock garden, pond garden, day lily beds and edible gardens are among the favorites featuring over 3,000 of species that thrive in zone 5. The Garden is located at 5 West Stockbridge Road, Stockbridge, and is open May through Columbus Day with group tours and lectures available, as well as ample bus parking. More information can be obtained at www.berkshirebotanical.org or by calling 413-298-3926.
The Trustees of Reservations oversee three gardens in the Berkshires. Ashintully Garden is largely a green garden, combining natural elements such as native trees, a stream, grass terraces and meadows defined and connected by architectural features, statuary, foot bridges and stone stairs. Located on Sodom Road in Tyringham, it is open June through October on Wednesdays and Saturdays, 1-5 pm. The Mission House, located one block west of the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge features a Colonial Revival garden demonstrating that these historic gardens were both useful and beautiful. It is open Thursday through Monday, Memorial Day through Columbus Day. Located at 5 Prospect Hill Road, Stockbridge, Naumkeag is distinguished by its beautifully landscaped grounds and distinctive garden “rooms” including a rose garden, Chinese garden and the famous Blue Steps, a series of fountain pools. Open daily Memorial Day-Columbus Day, 10 am-5 pm. Why not make a it a full day of garden touring and plan to take your group to all three memorable locations? Visit www.thetrustees.org or call 413-298-3239 for additional informatin on these three gardens.
Chesterwood is the country home, studio and gardens of sculptor Daniel Chester French (1850-1931). Be sure to plan to get a guided group tour of both the studio and the residence to get the most out of your visit! Visitors will be inspired by the breathtaking vistas of the Berkshire Hills and the natural beauty of the landscape, sculptures, and perennials gardens. Open Memorial Day through Columbus Day, 10-5, it is located at 4 Williamsville Road, Stockbridge. More information is available by calling 413-298-3579 or at www.chesterwood.org.
Hancock Shaker Village, located at Routes 20 & 41 in Pittsfield replicates herb and vegetable gardens of the Shaker communities. More than 100 varieties of herbs, medicinal plants, and heirloom vegetable and seed beds are featured. At Hancock Shaker Village, aside from the traditional guided tours for group, they offer a number of specialty tours designed for groups with specific interests, or who are looking for a unique experience in Shaker dining. Open April 16-May 27, 10 am-4pm and May 28-October 30, 10 am-5 pm. Learn more at www.hancockshakervillage.org or call 413-443-0188.
The Mount Estate and Gardens incorporates Edith Wharton’s favorite European influences into the Berkshire landscape. The 49-acre woodland estate includes informal gardens featuring an Italian walled garden, a 17th century-style French flower garden, grass steps and terraces. Their experienced and knowledgeable guides will tailor their tours of The Mount to suit your groups interests. Discounted rates and special touring options apply to groups of 10 or more people. Open daily May-October, 10-5; it is located at 2 Plunkett Street, Lenox. More information at: www.edithwharton.org or by calling 413-551-5111.
So get on the bus and bring along a boxed lunch so that you can relax and enjoy these wonderful gardens of the Berkshires – they are here as a result of garden lovers and environmentalists who had the vision to maintain and protect gardens and green spaces for generations to come. Be a force of nature: Visit a Garden!