Sometimes you want to come outside for a breath of air. Sit on a bench at dusk under the mock orange. Walk on a grass path and listen to a fountain playing over stone. Sometimes you want a bit of earth.

We have wildflowers here, and we have flowers people have tended over centuries. You can find wild rose pogonia orchids in a high bog — and tree peonies in a garden designed by Fletcher Steele with a curved water stair.

Berkshire gardens can be grand with lime walks and sculpture. A hundred years ago a Napoli farmer could wind up here as head gardener of a Gided Age mansion, growing five kinds of stone fruit on the same tree. But then again, they can be unexpected and beautifully simple. A lilac walk blooms in an old town park. Families plant scarlet runner beans and milkweed for the monarch butterflies.

Gardens in the Berkshires

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Canoe Meadows

Mass Audubon, the statewide conservation nonprofit, protects four wildlife sanctuaries in the Central and Southern Berkshires. At Canoe Meadows in Pittsfield, flat and easy trails wander along the Housatonic River, sheltering migrating birds and butterflies in the meadow, and otters and turtles along the water (and now and then a bear).

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Field Farm

Nature and Modern art mingle at Field Farm in Williamstown. The Trustees of Reservations maintains the outoor sculpture garden and trails— open to the public from sunrise to sunset all year — and runs the house as a Bed and Breakfast, and they will open the Folly for art tours occasionally through the summer and fall.

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HooRWA

The Hoosic River Watershed association is a group of local people who want to restore and conserve the river and bring people to enjoy it — paddling, biking and wandering along the bank or soaking your feet as you watch a migrating solitary sandpiper at the water’s edge.

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Lime Kiln

Two loops of trail cross the pasture lands of an old farm, past a seasonal pond and wetlands, and hayfields where bluebirds nest, and 50 kinds of butterflies forage. Signs of the old farm remain in stone walls and the historic kiln that gives the sanctuary its name.

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The Mount

Edith Wharton, the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize, wrote many of her best-known novels in this house, in the 10 years she lived in Lenox — from The House of Mirth to Ethan Frome. Her house is now a museum, a center of writing, music and performance, landscape and gardens, dedicated to keeping her spirit alive.

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