The Berkshire Botanical Garden

Entry to de Gersdorf Perennial Garden in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Entry to de Gersdorff Perennial Garden (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

I can’t think of a better way to start the month of August than by visiting the enchanting Berkshire Botanical Garden in Stockbridge, Mass. ( Easily accessible from scenic Route 7, this garden is situated on 15 gently rolling acres that are surrounded by the breathtaking Berkshire mountains. The property consists of two parcels, requiring road crossing to access 14 of the 26 display gardens that are positioned throughout the landscape for optimal viewing. The pathways and gardens are easily maneuverable; a hat and comfortable walking shoes are all that’s needed to stroll around the grounds. And there are numerous seating areas tucked into perfect vantage points, each offering wonderful opportunities to stop and reflect on a beautiful setting.

A rustic shed surrounded in color in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

A rustic shed surrounded in color (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Established in 1934 on a piece of land donated by Bernhard and Irene Hoffman, the Berkshire Botanical Garden had a mission to provide information and inspiration about the benefits of gardening, while demonstrating the importance of preserving the environment. One of the garden’s earliest efforts was a Victory Garden; created to educate families about growing vegetables and fruits (including canning and freezing) to aid them during the long periods of rationing. As a result, in 1946 the Berkshire Botanical Garden (then known as Berkshire Garden Center) received a National Victory Garden Institute Award in recognition of its contribution to the national war effort. To this day, the Berkshire Botanical Garden continues to grow edible gardens; including vegetables, herbs and fruits, while offering a variety of workshops and programs that promote its belief that “a Botanical Garden is not only a place of serenity and beauty, but an essential component of a healthy community.”

Ash on the Rock in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Ash on the Rock (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

The excitement starts the moment you step from your car into the parking lot, where the Carol Clark Tatkon Entry Garden beckons you with vibrant plantings of every color imaginable. Annuals (such as canna and castor bean) are blended with perennials, and all meld fabulously in a landscape dotted with heirloom trees and massive boulders. And speaking of boulders, one of the first sights you’ll come upon is an ash tree whose roots have grown around a rock in the most curious manner. Between its twisted grey trunk, some hosta and other shade loving plants have snuggled into tiny nooks and crannies to make their home as well.

** Another great garden within a few miles is The Mount ~

The Euston Visitor Center in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

The Euston Visitor Center (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Around the bend, the visitor center is illuminated by hydrangeas heaped with creamy orbs and the blazing chartreuse foliage of Tiger Eye sumac (Rhus typhina ‘Bailtiger’), set off by brazen tropicals in hues of scarlet and mulberry. Behind the visitor center are a series of vegetable and flower gardens with fruit trees, two greenhouses (one packed with gorgeous succulents), an arbor draped with early grapes, and trellises covered in flowering bean vines. The wetland garden, which acts as a living filter to process the roof and parking lot runoff, is lush with towering natives and buzzing bees. A chicken coop is tucked behind with a rustic storage building, while azure morning glory vines and containers filled with colorful vegetables and ornamentals decorate the vicinity. There is a native border flanking the education center and a woodland preserve with native shrubs and wildflowers to demonstrate the beauty of native plants.

Beatrice Sterling Proctor Garden in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Beatrice Sterling Proctor Garden (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Across the street you are promptly greeted by a building clothed in prismatic window boxes, vigorous vines and brilliant containers. There’s even (what appears to be) an abandoned stone well filled with tangerine, purple, lime and cherry red annuals. Around the bend is the Beatrice Sterling Proctor Garden, with flowing lines encompassing a less formal bed of shrubs and tall perennials backed with a steel grey fence, and a raised stone bed displaying structured plantings that rest against the side of the building. Carefully placed within the informal gardens were upright stones and twisted pieces of tree trunk to accentuate the casualness, while a bathing statue created the focal point in a sea of grasses.

** Looking for other Great Destinations ?

The Herb Garden in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

The Herb Garden (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Behind the building are two herb gardens, an active bee hive (surrounded by protective fencing) and rose garden. One herb garden features herbs grown by the Herb Associates volunteer group that are used for products sold in the BBG shop, while the other (designed by Page Dickey in 2009) contains over a hundred varieties of hardy and tender herbs that are planted in the stone terraced hillside. Silvery Russian sage, refreshing lavender, brisk bee balm, soothing chamomile and spicy chives are just a few of the demonstrative members lining the stone and grass pathways of this garden; offering numerous spots to sit and delight in the pleasant scents that envelop you.

The Martha Stewart Garden in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

The Martha Stewart Garden (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

An easily walked pathway winds through trees and past vivid patches of aromatic golden yarrow and spikes of light purple Russian sage, with openings of manicured lawn and outcroppings such as the Martha Stewart Garden; a tiny cottage garden with a living roof and exquisite plantings, all contained within an unusual woven branch fence. There is a long border of Japanese butterburr (Petasites japonicus), a deep green, large leaved plant grown for its dramatic presence, which points you in the direction of the Pond Garden. The Pond Garden has stone features and several artistic elements, all amplified by the presence of native wetland plants and the songs of frogs happily basking along its protected shore.

The American Daylily Society Display Garden in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

The American Daylily Society Display Garden (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Across the water lies the Hosta Garden, a welcoming shady spot with an assortment of hosta dancing with masses of emerald fern foliage. The hosta leaves ranged from jade green to golden yellow, some with variegation, and many displayed radiant clusters of amethyst flowers. Next door is the Foster Rock Garden, showing a series of rugged alpine plants that tolerate the extremes of poor soil and minimum moisture. The trail takes you through a delectable forest of native and exotic trees including American and copper beech, honey locust, downy hawthorn and yellowwood, eventually delivering you to the yellow brick road of daylily borders. Such a kaleidoscope of colors can’t be described by mere words; suffice to say the daylily border will lull you into a delirious state similar to what Dorothy experienced when walking through the field of poppies on her way to Oz. The intoxicating shades range from ruby red to blushing coral, and the 200 cultivars are organized cronologically by date of introduction.

The de Gersdorff Perennial Garden in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

The de Gersdorff Perennial Garden (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

The final segment of gardens concluded with a bang in the de Gersdorff Perennial Garden, which was a brilliant explosion of form, texture and color that immediately seduced me. This is a garden filled with statuesque beauties such as culvers root (Veronicastrum virginicum), with its white flower rockets shooting skyward, black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) flaunting its feathery chocolate foliage and giant knautia (Cephalaria gigantea ) towering above the rest with heads of creamy yellow that swayed on the afternoon breeze. All this was magically partnered with majestic grasses, perennial sunflower (helianthus cv.), black eyed Susan, lady’s mantle, bee balm and Shasta daisy-to name a few. In the area across from this garden was the Beatrice Proctor Frelinghuysen Perennial Garden, a shade lovers paradise filled with a smorgasbord of bold leaved perennials, flowering shrubs and trees. And on the way out, a stone patio guides you to the final destination; the four season Vista Garden, a garden that celebrates four season interest with bulbs, shrubs and trees. Now that’s a garden after my own heart~♥


  1. This place looks amazing! The photography makes it all come to life- like we’re there! The Botanical Gardens seems to have everything you want to see, in one place!

    • Thank you, Patty! I always try to make my readers feel as if they are there with me, glad you enjoyed the photos. The BB Garden is well worth a visit and it’s close to Stockbridge, which offers great places to shop and eat.

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