By Amy Krzanik
April showers bring May flowers, but to a very special area of Berkshire County they bring flowers even earlier than that. At Bartholomew’s Cobble
in Sheffield, Mass., a National Natural Landmark under the care of the Trustees of Reservations
, the best showing of wildflowers is beginning right now.
To call attention to this unique property and its bounty of spring ephemerals, the Trustees have planned the first annual Spring Wildflower Festival, running April 16—May 6. Three guided tours a day will lead guests past white and red trilliums, spring beauty, bloodroot, toothwort, wild ginger, blue cohosh and violets.
Brian Cruey, The Trustees’ general manager for the Southern Berkshires, says the festival is aimed at making people more aware of what’s happening right in their own backyard. “The Cobble is a national landmark because of its plants; its chemistry and the rock outcropping are really conducive to these early blooming flowers. When you think of seeing wildflowers, you usually think of open, grassy fields, and you don’t think of early April and May being the time to find them. Here, they occur in the forests and they take advantage of this time of year when temperatures start to rise but leaves haven’t yet come out to block sunlight from reaching the forest floor."
When the season is over, the plants will lie dormant until the following year. You can find them throughout New England, but not with the density and variety in which they occur at the Cobble.
In addition to tours, the Festival will include watercolor painting classes every Thursday, spring vacation week events for kids, a search for spring peepers and vernal pools, and a closing night bonfire.
But your Festival visit should be only the first of many trips here throughout the year. The Cobble is a great place for birders; boasts one of the best open views in the county from its highest point, Hurlburt’s Hill; and runs along the Housatonic River, where the Trustees will hold guided kayaking tours beginning in June.
Spring Wildflower Festival
April 16 -- May 6
Bartholomew’s Cobble, Sheffield
(413) 298-3239, Ext. 3013
Daily tours: 10 a.m., 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.
Tours: member $5; non-member $10
for additional events during the festival and beyond.