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!
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:
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: www.hewittpottery.com
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
Regional 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.”
“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.
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.
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 (www.regenerativedesigngroup.com), faculty at the Conway School of Landscape Design (www.csld.edu), 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
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
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.
Classes meet Wednesdays, 6-9pm, November 5 – December 17 (no class November 26).
Rendering is a drawing skill necessary for communicating garden designs to clients. This course is the next step for gardening designers following drafting. Structured as a studio class, students will learn the softer side of drawing for design using the B range pencils. Practice illustrative rendering such as sections, elevations and plan obliques. This course will enable designers to better communicate their designs to clients. Non-professional gardeners and artists are encouraged to join this class. This class can be taken as a core requirement for the Horticulture Certificate Level II program, or as an individual class.
Instructor – David Dew Bruner, ASLA, is an award winning landscape architect and fine artist with over 35 years of experience ranging from Deputy Administrator of Riverside Park, NYC to amusement park design, historical restoration and all scales of residential design. Originally from New Orleans, he has a BLA and a BFA from LSU as well as a MLA form the University of Massachusetts.
10% discount for 3 or more Spring Level III courses
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.
Classes meet on Tuesdays, 6-9pm: March 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31, 2015.
Designed for those starting or caring for a vegetable garden, this course will include discussion of soil and nutrient management, seed selection, crop rotation schemes, seeding and planting, pest management and specific plant cultivation, all in the context of the different vegetable groups. Each week, students will investigate a different vegetable family to insure all questions are answered about cultivation of these important food groups including Fabaceae (peas/beans/other legumes), greens (lettuce/mustards/arugula/mache and more), herbs (perennial and annual), perennial vegetables (asparagus/rhubarb/horseradish) , Chenopodiaceae (beet/chard family), Brassicaceae (cabbage/cauliflower/kale/brussels sprout family), Cucurbitaceae (squash/pumpkin/cucumber/melon family) ,Poeaceae (corn family), Allioideae (onion/garlic/leek/shallot family) and Solanaceae (tomato/potato/eggplant/pepper family). This class can be taken as a core requirement for the Horticulture Certificate Level II program, or as an individual class.
Instructor – Peter Salinetti, B.S. ,with wife Jenn owns Woven Roots Farm, a small family farm and CSA that grows vegetables and culinary herbs using traditional farming practices. For over ten years they have grown local produce for Berkshire County families. Their vegetables are grown using environmentally sustainable gardening practices, and they produce amazingly top-quality, delicious produce. Both Jen and Peter are committed to raising awareness about the importance of the local food supply, along with teaching technical information on how to do so. They have lectured on growing food for both NOFA and other regional organizations.
10% discount for 3 or more Spring Level III courses