Checking off Gardens on My Bucket List

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Last year I wrote my Gardening Bucket List. This year thanks to a generous Christmas gift from my husband I began my quest. The gift was a family membership to the NY Botanical Garden , Bronx, NY.  The membership includes admission for 2 plus guest passes, parking passes and members only days which include seeing exhibits first and discounts for food and the gift shop. The other  great thing about the membership is it is reciprocal with 200 other gardens!

We started off the year by visiting NY for their Orchid Show on members only day in February. Just what was needed after a long New England winter. . The Enid A. Haupt Conservatory was transformed into a beautiful tropical paradise with thousands of orchids in hundreds of varieties and colors. Well worth the 3 hour trip from our home in Western Massachusetts. I took over 300 photos !

My next garden was Tower Hill in Boylston, Ma. It is a beautiful expanse of gardens in a scenic rural setting overlooking Wachusett Reservoir. “Tower Hill Botanic Garden, the headquarters of the Worcester County Horticultural Society [WCHS]. The third oldest active horticultural society in the U.S., WCHS was incorporated in 1842 as a non-profit “educational organization for the purpose of advancing the science and encouraging and improving the practice of horticulture.” The inscription over the conservatory   Translation : If there be heaven on earth ,this would be it. Joy everlasting.

July brought us back to NY Botanical to see the gardens in their Summer splendor. The gardens were spectacular in color ,design, and variety. We enjoyed a wonderfully cool day for this time of year which enabled us to tour without becoming exhausted from the heat. Not only were the flowers outstanding, but the variety of trees are next to none in the Northeast. “The Botanical Garden has 50 gardens and more than one million living plants, including 30,000 mature trees, on its 250-acre landscape.”

Our last adventure was to Stockbridge , Ma  to the Berkshire Botanical Garden. It was the perfect day in early September to enjoy this little piece of heaven. The gardens were casual and inviting with the backdrop of the Berkshire hills. There were lots of rustic elements of stone and twig structures and trellises. The curved and meandering paths led to yet another display with plenty of benches to stop and rest. Creative pieces of art adorned different sections and gave a bit of unexpected interest. There was even a cute little shed and twig fenced garden created by Martha Stewart. A children’s garden left me wishing I was small again and able to fit into each cool little tunnel and fort created for young ones. We loved the signage with interesting facts for the young kiddos.  the berkshires 2014 015 the berkshires 2014 016 the berkshires 2014 021 the berkshires 2014 025 the berkshires 2014 026 the berkshires 2014 044 the berkshires 2014 046 the berkshires 2014 049 the berkshires 2014 050 the berkshires 2014 052 the berkshires 2014 056Our 2nd stop in Stockbridge was to Naumkeag. This was a 48 acre summer retreat for the Joseph Chaote family of NY City and was built in the 1890’s. Mabel Choate his daughter inherited the estate in 1929.. She was an avid gardener and student of garden design. She collaborated with Fletcher Steele, landscape architect to create a fantastic series of gardens that took over 30 years to create. We chose to take a self guided audio tour . The audio is a must to fully understand the thought process into the design of each element. Steele’s designs were ground breaking for the time . He truly used the existing landscape as an inspiration to showcase the grounds as well as incorporate treasures Miss Choate had brought to Stockbridge, many from China.  The estate was left to The Trustees of Reservations and has been a  National Historic Landmark since 2007.  The gardens have undergone a carefully researched rejuvenation. As we strolled the gardens, it was easy to imagine it during the

gilded age where many guests were entertained with grand parties on the lawn.  While this tour was not part of our garden membership, it was well worth the admission price!


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