The "cottage" at Naumkeag as seen across the Tree Peony Terrace
The Blue Steps, arguably Naumkeag's most famous garden feature
The shady Afternoon Garden
Beginning with the Afternoon Garden in 1926, Mabel Choate and Fletcher Steele created a number of different sections in the gardens, including the famous Blue Steps which allowed Miss Fletcher to descend from the house to her cutting garden at the base of the slope, an Evergreen Garden, and a quirky Rose Garden which has only a sprinkling of rose bushes connected by undulating bands of white gravel set in panes of grass.
A long walk of trimmed arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis) in the Evergreen Garden
View into the gardens from the Top Lawn adjacent to the house
A view across the unusual Rose Garden
A pink Floribunda rose (Rosa sp.) in the Rose Garden
There is also a Chinese Garden which, though probably not very authentic, is quite interesting from a design perspective and as a piece of period exotica. Among the the features of this garden room that most intrigued me where a small, unfortunately dry rill that zigzags through one corner of the garden and cut-out squares in the stone paving planted with cushion-forming pinks (Dianthus sp.).
One of the entrances to the Chinese Garden
The small "temple" that dominates the Chinese Garden
A lion statue
View across the center of the Chinese Garden; notice the squares on either side of the path planted with a minute Dianthus species
The dragon relief in front of the pavilion
Naumkeag's eclectic mix of different gardening styles and influences as well as its often fanciful adaptations of traditional garden spaces such as the rose garden or the stair case with a fountain makes it a very interesting site but unfortunately the gardens are not nearly as well maintained as they could be. While their off-beat details are still charming, it takes a bit of imagination to visualize just how great they could be.
The rill connecting the Afternoon Garden and the Blue Steps
Like several other sites in the Berkshires, Naumkeag is open to visitors from Memorial Day weekend to Columbus Day, daily from 10am to 5pm. Visitors can explore the gardens on their own and see the house interiors on a guided tour.