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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Clark Art Institute

Renoir rubs elbows with Rodin, and the reflecting pool glows between northeast granite and classical marble. The Clark Art Institute holds a collection of Impressionists and more on a campus re-imagined by Tadao Ando.


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).



In a studio with tall windows letting in the north light, Daniel Chester French created the figure of Abraham Lincoln for the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. Today contemporary sculpture lines the paths and gardens in the summer and fall.


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.



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.


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.



The gardens of the Choate family’s Gilded Age ‘cottage’ have a name around the world for their Blue Stairs, where a water channel runs down between white birches in an Islamic design. The gardens touch many parts of the world, from the Forbidden City to Venice. And all through the terraces, the walks and beds follow the line of the Berkshire hills.


Pleasant Valley

Mass Audubon, the statewide conservation nonprofit, protects four wildlife sanctuaries in the Central and Southern Berkshires. At Pleasant Valley in Lenox, their local headquarters lead into a boardwalk around a beaver pond and trails climb the slopes of Lenox Mountain.


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.


Tracy Brook

In early June, the herons are nesting. Mass Audubon protects one of the largest blue heronries in the county at one of the newest sanctuaries, a wetland and woodland on Tracy Brook in Richmond. It has no marked trails, but guided walks explore the area.