Surrounding the Bidwell House are terraced stone walls brimming with perennial beds. Installed in the 20th century when the house was restored, these provide a fabulous setting for this gem of a Georgian saltbox. The remaining acreage is woodlands laced with hiking trails and footpaths leading to historical landmarks throughout the property, which you can learn more about HERE. The Bidwell House gardens were featured in the 1998 Massachusetts Garden Club Federation Garden Tour and the 2000 Lenox Garden Club Tour.
In 2018 the Museum received a grant from the Lenox Garden Club to create a native garden in front of the house around the new accessible entrance.
The gardens are open to the public, free of charge year-round. Beautiful in all seasons, strolling in the grounds and gardens is a pleasant adjunct to a visit to the Museum. Additionally, the Heritage Vegetable Garden demonstrates the early colonial style and a variety of plantings that would have been common at the time. An heirloom herb garden is located close to the house outside the former Buttery door. There is also a pollinator garden in the lower lawn area and the remains of an old orchard.
For a map of our 2020 Heritage Garden layout click HERE
Remembering a Garden Angel
January of 2021 marked the passing of long-time Bidwell supporter Jan Emmons (1929-2021). Jan, along with her husband, board member George Emmons, moved from Monterey to Fairhaven to be closer to family, but still maintained connections to the Bidwell House and to Monterey: you might read George’s monthly column in the Monterey News, accompanied by his drawings of the natural world. Jan was a passionate gardener, and shared that passion through becoming the chair of the Bidwell House Museum’s Garden Committee. With her help, the gardens flourished, maintained by a group of volunteers known as the “Garden Angels” who weeded, pruned, watered, and occasionally imbibed in Bloody Marys. If you share Jan’s love of the Bidwell gardens and would like to join us in maintaining our gardens, you can learn more about volunteering HERE.
Learn more about Jan’s memory by reading George’s recollection of her which will be appearing in the Monterey News.
Heritage Garden Donations
In response to the pandemic, former Bidwell intern Joe Makuc approached the Museum in the spring of 2020 about expanding the Heritage Vegetable garden in order to donate produce to those in need in the Berkshires. Working with gardener Ruth Green and garden intern Charlie Annecharico, carrots, peas, cabbages, kale, beets, onions, squash, and beans were planted, with the amount and variety of squash being expanded over the previous year. During the summer, former Bidwell interns and Joe’s siblings Marya Makuc and Nadia Makuc harvested the vegetables for donation. We estimate that around 85 lbs of produce was donated to the Great Barrington People’s Pantry and to Monterey’s Pantry Pickup. Thank you to Joe, Marya, Nadia, Ruth, and Charlie for all of the work to facilitate these donations!
Bidwell Gardens Featured in Book
Photographer Paul Rocheleau and author David Larkin visited the Museum and toured the gardens in search of material for a new book. As a result, a stunning photo of the back of the Bidwell House taken from the herb garden graces the front cover of a book entitled Country Acres: Country Wisdom for the Working Landscape (Houghton Mifflin, 1998). In addition, a large photo of the interior of the Carriage Barn, displaying herbs drying after harvest, has also been included. On the rear cover is the picture of produce from the heirloom vegetable garden on the front porch.
Country Acres is about the history and culture of country life and is the second in a series of handsomely illustrated books about country ways. Author David Larkin is also the co-author of the best-selling Barn: The Art of a Working Building (with Elric Endersby and Alexander Greenwood) and Shaker: Life, Work, and Art (with June Sprigg) as well as the author of Farm: The Vernacular Tradition of Working Buildings, among many other illustrated books. Berkshire photographer Paul Rocheleau is noted for his excellent work for The Magazine Antiques.