United States of America, New Hampshire, Cheshire County, Walpole
Berg Gardens (Walpole, New Hampshire)
The 360-acre plot on a New Hampshire mountain purchased from a forest products company in 1978, with no remaining trees and no more than six inches of topsoil on top of bedrock, is the site of the Berg Gardens. The owners needed a place to put their collection of houses, buildings and architectural features. Elements from diverse building styles including a New England saltbox, a Norman tower, medieval stonework, American wrought iron, a tavern, and a barn were arranged and reconfigured as a mountaintop castle. The gardens were begun in 1986 with the assistance of landscape designer Gordon Hayward and stone mason Dan Snow, and included two trips to England to study the underlying structure of the English naturalistic style. Using stone from the property, nearby locations, and demolition sites and purchased marble, Snow built a hardscape structure of dry-stone walls, terraces, stone stairs and walkways, along with a stone grotto, a ruined silo, and the artificial ruins of a stone barn. A garden folly in the 18th c. chinoiserie style modeled on one at Hidcote in England was created from building plans for a Massachusetts outhouse.
Planting began after dry-stone retaining walls were put in to define garden beds and keep improved soil in place. Plants were chosen that suit the mountaintop environment as well as constructed features, with native seedlings allowed to invade the ruined stone silo. Native plants grow in the barn ruins, including ferns, blackberries, mosses, old roses and small trees. Color is controlled in the perennial garden beds in the terraced areas, ranging from hot to cooler tones. There is a dwarf conifer bed beyond the terraces, and conifers, hemlocks and crab apple trees were planted near the grotto. The "roof" of the grotto is a wild flower meadow with old stone wellheads set above openings in the stonework that let in light. Artifacts have been placed into the garden areas, including four Roman sarcophagi, urns, grinding wheels, a marble sundial, farm implements, and carved capitals topped by stone eagles.
Persons associated with this property are: Jonathan Royce and members of the Royce family (former owners, from 1780); various families (former owners, 19th c.); David & Simonds forest products (former owner, 20th c. until 1978); Gordon Hayward (landscape designer, beginning in 1986); Dan Snow (stone mason, beginning in 1986).
The folder includes worksheets, photocopies of articles, and other information.
This garden was featured in "The Accidental Architect, The Building Collection of Peter and Teddy Berg," by Jeffrey Simpson, Rice Mountain Publications, 2003; "An Inspired Mountaintop Estate" by John Clayton, New Hampshire Home magazine pp. 73-80, May/June 2009; "Footprints: Paths Define the Moods of Theodora and Peter Berg's New Hampshire Garden" by Ethne Clarke, "House & Garden," magazine pp. 114-116, June 2000; "In the Company of Stone," by Dan Snow, Artisan, 2001; and "The Garden Conservancy's Open Days Directory: The guide to visiting America's best private gardens," 2003, p.239