There is something for everyone at the Berkshire Botanical Garden.  Below is a list of our scheduled events classes, and exhibits.  For details on any individual listing, just click on the event for more information.  If you still have questions, feel free to call the garden at 413.298.3926.  See you at the Garden!

Opening Reception for Down to Earth: Architects Redesign the Potting Shed @ Berkshire Botanical Garden
May 4 @ 9:00 pm – 11:00 pm


This year, we’ve invited six architects to the Garden to give us their artistic interpretation of the Potting Shed.  The exhibit will run from May 5th through Columbus day, with an opening reception and cocktail party to be held on May the 4th from 5 – 7.   A great way to celebrate spring in the Berkshires and welcome the opening of our 2013 season at Garden.

This event is generously sponsored by:


Opening Reception for Rare Earth: Garden Pots as Sculpture @ Berkshire Botanical Garden
May 25 @ 9:00 pm – 11:00 pm


Curated by Joyce Nereaux, who presented exhibitions of birdhouses in 2008 and benches in 2010, Rare Earth:  Garden Pots as Sculpture displays the work of Mark Hewitt in creating a wide variety of magnificent, huge containers.  Join us for the opening where there will be a cocktail party and guided tour – May 25th from 5-7.  All pots on display in this exhibit will be for sale.

For More information on Mark and his work, visit his website at:

We also feature Mark and the exhibit, Rare Earth, in this past issue of “Cuttings.”  Below is the article written by Joyce Nereaux.  To view the full issue of “Cuttings”  click here.

Rare Earth:  Mark Hewitt’s Mighty Pots

Garth and more 024_2_1Regional pottery traditions are like wildflowers that grow only in special soils and microclimates. Seen in this context, Mark Hewitt’s massive pots on display at Berkshire Botanical Gardens are like extremely rare and astonishingly beautiful blooms. North Carolina, where Hewitt makes his majestic work, is home to the only extant Anglo folk pottery tradition in the US, and Hewitt is one of its greatest contemporary stars.

Think for a moment about the music that the American South has produced – the Blues, Jazz, Gospel, Bluegrass, Rockabilly, Country, even Elvis. This music is the foundation of contemporary American popular music. The cross pollination of cultures that produced these iconic musical forms also produced distinctive decorative arts – furniture, metalwork, and pottery. Yankee salt-glazing potters from Connecticut headed South in the early 19th century and met South Carolina potters who were in turn influenced by English journeymen and enslaved African-Americans. “It all came together in North Carolina, the place is a veritable melting pot, and has long been home to one of the world’s great ceramic traditions,” says Hewitt, “The potters produced utilitarian wares that rise above their functionality to become statements of design – classic forms skillfully made, fit for use, and fit for imaginative interpretation.”

Writing for the 2011 exhibition, “Mark Hewitt’s Big Hearted Pots,” at the Ogden Museum in New Orleans, Mellon Professor of English at Mount Holyoke College, Christopher Benfey, plays with the musical connections in Hewitt’s work. “Crossroads: three young lads from Britain, Eric Clapton and his mates, listen to old records by Southern bluesmen from the 1930’s and came up with music utterly new and fresh, where you can feel the crossing in your bones of two traditions – rural and urban, African-American and alienated European, soft and very, very loud – in creative tension. Or a young lad named Mark Hewitt, from the Staffordshire “Potteries” in the English Midlands, listens to the music of Southern potters and comes up with his own distinctive kind of ceramic music, utterly new and fresh – and very, very big.”

North Carolina is to the pottery world what Broadway is to theater, and Hewitt has been a leading actor on its stage for the past thirty years. America’s preeminent folklorist, Henry Glassie, Professor Emeritus and the University of Indiana, writes, “At the center, with his colleagues from North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, stands this tall, handsome man from England, Mark Hewitt – in place, at home – productively, inspirationally at work, a great American master.” How did he earn this accolade?

His background gives us some clues. Born into a family of industrial ceramists, where his father and grandfather were Directors of Spode, Hewitt was surrounded by pots from birth. But as a teenager he rebelled from this industrial aesthetic, finding beauty in Sung dynasty Chinese and old African pots instead. After university he apprenticed with legendary British studio potter, Michael Cardew, subject of Yale University Press’s recently published biography, “The Last Sane Man, Michael Cardew: Modern Pots, Colonialism, and the Counterculture.” His three year stint with Cardew included hitchhiking across the Sahara desert to study West African pottery – perhaps the phrase should be rewritten, “mad dogs and English potters go out in the midday sun.”

In 1979 he finally drifted ashore in Connecticut, just a few miles down Route 7 from Stockbridge, to work at Cornwall Bridge Pottery, serving a second three year apprenticeship with another ex-Cardew apprentice, Todd Piker, and while there, he fell in love and married Carol Peppe, daughter of Canaan, CT veterinarian, Dr. Vincent Peppe, and together they left New England for the South in 1983.

Benfey writes tellingly about the way Hewitt has absorbed North Carolina’s folk pottery tradition, “The vision of North Carolina that Hewitt conveys in his writing and in his work is audacious and compelling. He talks the talk and walks the walk; in so doing he has bent inherited tradition into potent new shapes. His big-hearted pots are on a truly heroic scale – heroic in conception and execution. They place him in the company of the great folk potters who have preceded and inspired him.”pots

Rare Earth feels like a homecoming,” comments Hewitt, now 57, “I’m back where I first arrived in America, bringing fresh blooms – my best new work – to New England from North Carolina. This group of big pots is the product of thirty years refinement of technique, materials, and a singular but ever-evolving aesthetic.” His big pots instantly command attention, whether they’re classically shaped vases or jars, or his more recent abstract ‘Sentinels.’ They fit majestically into a landscape, or even in an elegant interior, drawing your eye to them, challenging and consoling in equal measure, and, like old friends, you are always glad to see them. Henry Glassie writes, “Other ceramic confections cower in closets or parade across shelves, but Mark’s pots stand outside, braving the wind and weather, becoming part of the landscape, like houses, like barns, like temples.”

He continues, “Robust and beautiful, Mark Hewitt’s pots disturb distinctions, disrupt dichotomies. Inside and outside, folk and fine, old and new, native and alien, art and craft, the utilitarian and the aesthetic – Mark’s pots mix and merge categories in centered courage. They stand in the midst of life, where academic antimonies fade away, and work is good and true and human.”

Be sure to see this magnificent collection of big pots at the Berkshire Botanical Gardens. “Rare Earth” runs from Memorial Day to Columbus Day.

Contained Exuberance: Walk About Tour @ Berkshire Botanical Garden
Aug 10 @ 3:00 pm


Each year we bring together some of the region’s most talented designers and invite them to create individual container gardens that we display in an exhibit we like to call Contained Exuberance.  Tucked away in different spots throughout the Garden, one of the highlights of this exhibit will be on August 10th at our Designer Walkabout, where we learn the stories behind the designers’ visions.  It never fails to yield insight and ideas.

Permaculture @ Education Center at Berkshire Botanical Garden
Feb 6 @ 11:00 pm – Feb 7 @ 2:00 am

Permaculture design

Classes meet on Thursdays, 6-9pm: February 6, 13, 20, 27, 2014.

Permaculture is multi-disciplinary approach to designing and maintaining productive, regenerative human ecosystems. In this class, students will gain the framework and information to design, build and maintain permaculture landscapes with specific focus on food systems such as gardens, orchards and edible forest gardens, water systems, strategies on steep slopes, soil building, productive conservation and restoration, as well as urban and broadscale applications. This course combines lectures, slideshows, classroom exercises, handouts and online resources to expose students to current thinking and strategies in permaculture design.

Instructor – Jono Neiger synthesizes his diverse expertise in permaculture design, conservation biology & restoration ecology to create productive and integrated landscapes. Working as collaborator, teacher and guide, Jono empowers individuals, communities and organizations to understand and steward their land and landscape through design. He is principal at Regenerative Design Group (, faculty at the Conway School of Landscape Design (, board president of the Permaculture Institute of the Northeast and stewards his homestead, Hickory Garden, as well as Brook’s Bend Farm in Massachusetts.

10% discount for 3 or more Spring Level III courses

Woodworker’s Guild Show
Jul 19 @ 2:00 pm – Jul 20 @ 9:00 pm
Native Plant Selection and Identification (Herbaceous and Woody) @ Education Center at Berkshire Botanical Garden
Sep 11 @ 10:00 pm – Sep 12 @ 1:00 am

Asclepsis natvie plant communities.

Classes meet on Thursdays, September 11 & 18 and October 2 & 9, at 6-9pm and on Saturday, September 27, 10am – 1pm.

This is a survey plant identification class covering horticultural significant North American native plants that thrive in the Berkshires and surrounding tri-state region.  Both herbaceous and woody plants will be covered with special focus on plant communities and garden worthy, low maintenance plants that work well in the managed landscape. Herbaceous plants including wildflowers, woodland and meadow plants, grasses, sedges, and ferns will be the topic of the first three classes and flowering shrubs, ornamental trees, evergreen and shade trees will complete the final two classes. Information on cultural requirements, maintenance, plant combinations and associations will form the framework of this course.

Instructor – Drew Monthie, M.S. is a horticulturalist, garden designer and ecologist working in upper New York State. He is committed to teaching about the importance of using native plants to provide beauty and preserve biodiversity in yards and gardens. He has a special interest in ethnobotany.

10% discount for 3 or more Fall Level III courses


Invasive Plant Identification, Removal and Control Strategies @ Education Center at Berkshire Botanical Garden
Sep 13 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm

This class will explore invasive plants, including their history and introduction intentionally or otherwise into Eastern North America. Learn how these species cause biochemical changes that affect soil microbes, which in turn cause major shifts in plant community populations. Identification, control strategies and the degrading effects of these species on ecosystems, including their effect on native plants and animals, will be covered. A morning lecture on plant identification will be followed by a short field trip to observe the effects of these troublesome plants.

Instructor – Drew Monthie, M.S., is a horticulturalist, garden designer and ecologist working in upper New York State. He is committed to teaching about the importance of using native plants to provide beauty and preserve biodiversity in yards and gardens. He has a special interest in ethnobotany.

Botany for Gardeners @ Education Center at Berkshire Botanical Garden
Jan 6 @ 11:00 pm – Jan 7 @ 2:00 am


Classes meet on Tuesdays, 6-9 pm: January 6,  13, 20, 27, 2015.

This is a beginning course in plant anatomy and physiology that covers a wide range of topics.  The relationship between structure and function of seeds, roots, stems, leaves, flowers and fruits will be addressed.  An understanding of how plants grow and respond to their environment is fundamental to the successful planting and cultivation of this enormous class of organisms. This class can be taken as a core requirement for the Horticulture Certificate Level I program, or as an individual class.

Instructor – Joyce Hemingson, Ph.D. earned her degree in Botany from the University of Connecticut on the pollination biology of Clethra alnifolia (Sweet Pepperbush). She worked for many years as Director of Publications for White Flower Farm, located in Litchfield, CT. She is an active gardener and a longtime member of the North American Rock Garden Society.

Discounted price for 3 Spring Level I courses: $475



Landscape Design Clinic @ Education Center at Berkshire Botanical Garden
Jan 14 @ 11:00 pm – Jan 15 @ 2:00 am


Classes meet on Wednesdays, 6-9pm: January 14, 21, 28; February 4, 11, 18, 25; March 4; and Saturday, March 14 (10am – 3pm).

Learn skills essential for effective functional garden design that honor the site and meet client needs. Each week will cover a different topic or technique focusing on the importance of getting to know the client and site as a basis of effective and appealing design. Essential and easy to grasp design principles for those who design or install gardens will be introduced throughout the course with the goal of practicing a form-finding approach to garden design. The tools taught will provide a vocabulary essential for assessing a property’s potential and problems, and for asking the right questions to realize client’s wishes while avoiding common design mistakes. Learn how to make well considered and sustainable choices for the elements and materials commonly used in the residential scale garden. Features including fences, decks, terraces, garden furnishings, containers and ornaments will be covered with a focus on expanding the designer’s vocabulary and palette.   Students will select a project and take it from creative concept to completed design plan including schematic drawings, and planting plans.  Each class will involve instruction and evaluation of projects in progress and will include both class instruction and studio time. Frequent group discussions and exercises will put the skills learned into action.  Students will make a formal presentation at the final class.  This course is the culmination of the Level II Certificate in Garden Design although all students are welcome.

Instructor – Chuck Schnell, M.A. has both a BA and MA in landscape design.  He works in planning and design for WCLDA in Ashfield, MA.  He is a recipient of the Garden Club of America McLaren Fellowship to study abroad.  He has strong knowledge of ornamental plants, landscape design and construction expertise.

Guest Instructor  Walter Cudnohufsky, M.L.A. is a long time dedicated teacher.  Having founded and for twenty years directed the nationally acclaimed Conway (Mass.) School of Landscape Design, he has honed a reasoned approach to planning design.  Currently his firm is engaged in many diverse and stimulating planning/design projects throughout the region.

Small-Fruit Gardening in the New England Landscape @ Education Center at Berkshire Botanical Garden
Feb 2 @ 11:00 pm – Feb 3 @ 2:00 am

Classes meet on Mondays, February 2, 9, 16 and 23, from 6 – 9pm.

This course will cover the production basics for strawberries, brambles (raspberry/blackberry), blueberries and grapes for New England conditions. Site and soil requirements, planting systems, pruning practices and integrated pest management practices will be covered for each fruit type. If time allows, other fruits, such as currants and gooseberries, aronia, saskatoons, etc.) may also be discussed.

Instructor – Sonia Schloemann, M.S., has B.S. and M.S. degrees in Plant and Soil Sciences, both from UMass. She has worked in the area of small-fruit production since 1987, with a focus on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and sustainable practices. She is interested in and promotes non-chemical methods for insect and disease management (e.g., biological control of spider mites using native predatory mites), introduces innovative production practices (e.g., greenhouse raspberry production), demonstrates new crops and cropping systems (e.g., cold-climate table grape and wine grape production) and helps fruit growers cope with some of the most intransigent pests (e.g., spotted-wing Drosophila). Her interests also include promoting native pollinator conservation and soil health improvement for commercial fruit growers.

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