Gardens to Gables

Happy National Public Gardens Day!

My mother remarked earlier this week that Kentucky was experiencing “locust winter.” The recent cold snap has caused me to fret over my tomatoes (safely in containers, so I can cover them up if need be) and wonder when the sun would return. According to the weather forecast, sunshine and warmer temperatures will bless the Bluegrass beginning today – just in time for the Oaks and Kentucky Derby and National Public Gardens Day. Created in 2009 by the America Public Gardens Association, the day celebrates  botanical gardens, arboreta, conservatories, educational gardens and historical landscapes in North America.

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Peonies in bloom at the Arboretum in Lexington, Kentucky.

While Kentucky teems with historical landscapes (world famous and beautiful), I don’t tend to think of the Bluegrass and public gardens. England, on the other hand, is a gardening country, and you can count on finding gardens open to the public just about anywhere in the British Isles. When my own small plot of land doesn’t satisfy me, I am lucky enough to drive a short distance to my family farm, where I delight in trees I’ve known since childhood, and an ever-changing palette of perennials.

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Bernheim Arboretum & Research Forest is the only Kentucky public garden to appears to be participating in National Public Gardens Day, but there are plenty of options around the Commonwealth to indulge your love of the outdoors and gardens. Bernheim, established in 1929 by German immigrant turned successful bourbon distiller Isaac W. Bernheim,  is located about 20 minutes south of Louisville.

Lexington's (and the states) arboretum dates to 1991.

Lexington’s (and the state’s) arboretum dates to 1991.

Officially the State Botanical Garden, the Arboretum in Lexington is a popular place for folks of all ages – runners, walkers, gardeners, dog walkers, and lots of children. Over 100 acres provide a blissful retreat in the middle of Lexington -and I love to just stroll around the different gardens, getting inspired by combinations of colors and foliage.

Silvery blues and burgundy - I just wish my own backyard wasn't so small!

Silvery blues and burgundy – I just wish my own backyard wasn’t so small!

Other arboretums in Kentucky include the Boone County Arboretum in northern Kentucky, which spreads over 121 acres of land. Other “official” arboretums and public gardens, according to the American Public Gardens Association, include Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, and most surprisingly, Gainesway Farm in Lexington and Gainsbourough Farm in Versailles, Kentucky.

A path at the Arboretum in Lexington.

A path at the Arboretum in Lexington.

Even if you never patronize an arboretum or public garden, I think we should all be glad such spaces exist, to let people enjoy green spaces and hopefully, let the stress of everyday life slip away just for a little bit. And on that note, the sun is shining brilliantly, and I am going outside!

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