Spring is here! Our Berkshire gardens are waking from their slumber, trees are growing new buds, and flowers are starting to emerge from the earth. Soon, the countryside will be bright and new. Have you visited any of the country estates boasting beautiful gardens here in the Berkshires? Now is the time!
Edith Wharton’s beloved country estate, The Mount, is a true treasure where you can enjoy the overtures of spring awakenings. Designed and built in 1902, Wharton entertained close friends here, such as Henry James, Walter Berry, and her lover Morton Fullerton. Days were filled with writing, picnics on the lawns, and strolls in the gardens. The evenings brought hostess and guests together for small intimate dinners and ended with readings of favorite passages from books in her library. Today, The Mount is both a historic house museum and a cultural center, open for daily tours May through October.
The Mount offers several tours of the house, including a Backstairs Tour, the popular Ghost Tours, and guided tours of the gardens. Wharton considered gardening and writing to be the most fulfilling activities in her life, and her gardens reflect this sensibility. She envisioned her gardens as an elegant series of outdoor rooms, in harmony with the house and the surrounding natural landscape. Today, you can experience much of Wharton’s original design for the gardens.
If you need one more reason to get outside at The Mount, be sure to see SculptureNow’s outdoor sculpture show, featuring large-scale contemporary sculptures, on the grounds from June through October.
Chesterwood is another garden paradise in the Berkshires. A National Trust Historic Site, Chesterwood is the country home, studio, and gardens of America’s foremost sculptor of public monuments, Daniel Chester French. You may be familiar with the Minute Man and Abraham Lincoln for the Lincoln Memorial, two particularly famous works. A skilled artisan, French left his permanent home in New York for six months and moved with his family to Chesterwood, where he worked on over 200 public and private commissions.
Visit and view his plaster work, home, and enjoy his lovingly maintained gardens. Expansive views of the Taconic mountain range frame the Georgian Revival stucco home and studio. Draping peonies, tall trees, and a forest with pea stone walking paths are among the beauty that you’ll discover when you visit. Chesterwood is open Memorial Day Weekend through October.
To round out this list, the Berkshires are lucky enough to have one of the nation’s oldest Botanical Gardens. The Berkshire Botanical Garden is home to both functional and ornamental flora and fauna. Their collection emphasizes plants that are indigenous to or thrive in the Berkshires. Encompassing 15 acres of cultivated land, they offer a broad variety of educational programs, special events, classes, workshops and more! From their annual Plant Sale to their Harvest Festival, these gardens come alive with their thoughtfully planned events.
The Botanical Garden’s generally wheelchair-friendly, gravel paths meander through 23 display gardens. Among the highlights include a Historic Herb Garden established in 1937 that contains over 100 varieties of herbs, Pond and Rock Gardens, a collection of stunning seasonal displays, and much more. Fragrant, colorful, and memorable, a visit to the Berkshire Botanical Gardens is sure to please. Public display gardens are open May 1 through Columbus Day.
Be in nature and get inspired. Our Berkshire gardens are treasures unto themselves: aesthetically beautiful, mesmerizing, and distinctly different. Fall in love with all the details: the sunken Italian Garden at The Mount, the bursting hydrangea trees at Chesterwood, the fragrant pear trees at the Berkshire Botanical Garden, and much more.