Edible Berkshires


Take the Party (and the Heat) Outside


My mom has been telling me since I was old enough to complain (which was pretty much at birth) that when she was growing up, no one had air conditioning. People went outside and did stuff as a family and didn’t spend their summer days in the climate-controlled comforts of their living rooms, watching television.

Well, like a lot of people in the Berkshires, my house doesn’t have AC. Ironically, my mom refuses to visit me in the summer. “It’s too hot,” she says, as she turns on “CSI: Miami, New York, Las Vegas.”

I can’t argue with her. It does get hot, especially in the kitchen and, except for maybe frying up an egg in the morning I refuse to turn on the oven or stove in the summer. That means that my culinary attentions shift from baked goods and oven roasting … Read the rest

The Indoor Herb Garden

(for the Houseplant Impaired)


Story and photo by Brian Cruey, Berkshire Botanical Garden

I don’t know what is wrong with me. In the summer, my gardens are lush, green and, for the most part, healthy. It’s not effortless—I definitely put a lot of time and energy into the maintenance and care of my plants—but without being immodest I would say that I’m a decent gardener.

However, when I try to translate those skills into growing anything indoors, I’m less of a decent gardener and more of a crazed serial killer. So many people try to give me houseplants or ask me to overwinter something for them and I have to politely decline.

“You don’t understand,” I tell them. “If you ever want to see this plant alive again, run away as fast as you can.”

Of course, I know this is foolish. There is no such thing as a “green … Read the rest

Staying Busy as a Bee


Aspiring beekeepers learn how to tend a beehive.

Photos by Brian Cruey, Berkshire Botanical Garden

I always come to the fall season with mixed emotions. Part of me simply can’t believe summer is gone—as always, it passes by too quickly and I desperately cling to those dwindling daylight hours, refusing to admit that it’s over. On the other hand, I’m ready for a break from weeding and mowing, and a truce in the ongoing war I have with the chipmunks in my vegetable garden.

RIP, fresh summer salads straight from the garden! But welcome back, baked goods and oven-cooked meals that are nearly impossible to make during the heat of summer.

Time to take one last kayak on the lake—but it’s also time to make that first fire in the fireplace and drink a hot drink while curled up under a blanket.

It is a confusing time for me, obviously. … Read the rest

Rethinking the Potting Shed

Photos by Brian Cruey of Berkshire Botanical Garden

Working shed at the Botanical Gardens.

When we asked six architects to reimagine the traditional potting shed for our exhibit “Down to Earth,” we had no idea what we were going to get. Potting sheds are often flimsy, unsightly structures that a lot of people view as eyesores. But why does it have to be that way?

It doesn’t. A walk around the Berkshire Botanical Garden this summer proves that you can think outside the box, with sheds that are inspired by everything from the Asian gardeners at the Berkeley Street Community Garden in Boston’s South End, all the way to the surf shacks of Hawaii. In truth, a potting shed is a great opportunity to add something special to a garden that is both functional and a point of interest.

Here are a few things to think about when planning your … Read the rest