The Making of Naumkeag's Gorgeous Gardens
In the Spring 2016 issue of Preservation magazine, you learn about the decades-long collaboration between American landscape artist Fletcher Steele and estate owner Mabel Choate. Together they succeeded in creating the iconic and whimsical gardens at Naumkeag in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, that are currently undergoing a multi-year restoration.
While many of the features blend into the landscape as if they always belonged, Naumkeag is an exemplar of Steele's keen eye for detail, attention to his client's wishes, and purposeful engineering. Of the Blue Steps Steele once wrote, "I figure that comfort in going up a steep hill depends on variety of leg action the lack of which makes a long flight of steps intolerable ... So I put up four "divisions," each one having a couple of steps and turns, two ramps of different steepness and a graduated flight of half a dozen steps to a platform."
We have compiled a series of drawings and images of Naumkeag to show the extensive planning and detailed work that went into creating these historic gardens.