Friday, September 18, 2015

University of Kentucky Arboretum

I was in Lexington, KY a couple of days ago (part of my Midwest Adventure that will culminate in attendance at the International Master Gardener Conference; I'm tweeting the journey @ericahsmith) and since it was a lovely day I decided to spend time at the University of Kentucky Arboretum. (Incidentally, Lexington is a place where I imagine visitors from the British Isles doing a lot of double-takes, since there are big UK signs everywhere. But I digress.)

The Arboretum is free to visit and is a good place for a walk or a jog, which is what I saw a lot of people doing; I may have been the only one there looking at plants. But the loop path around it is actually a botanical journey called the Walk Across Kentucky, documenting in plant life the various regions of the state: Bluegrass, Knobs, Pennyrile, Appalachian Plateau, Cumberland Mountains, Shawnee Hills, Mississippi Embayment. You can stay on the paved path or take side paths to explore. There's also a wooded area (in which they are suffering an invasion of Euonymus fortunei or winter creeper, and trying to battle it). It takes an hour or two to do the whole thing.

This is not a polished or meticulously labeled exhibit, but an out-in-the-open reproduction of nature. There are interpretive signs on entering a new area:

This particular sign mentions, among other plants, cane or American bamboo (Arundinaria gigantea) which I really knew nothing about, so it was fun to walk through a canebrake:

I didn't get very good photos for the most part, since it was a sunny day, but here's a section of Pennyrile wildflowers:

And a nice view:

There are more traditional garden areas as well - nothing out of the ordinary (though I didn't go into the children's garden) but a nicely landscaped home demonstration garden, a vegetable garden in which MGs give lessons, and a large rose garden:

The sculpture in the middle is a memorial to the dead of Flight 5191 (accident at Bluegrass Airport in 2006).

Good place to visit if you're in the area and want to get a sense of what grows in the state. Probably useful if you're traveling to the regions it represents, too - alas, this trip I never got much off Route 64.


  1. I love arboretums. If you ever get up to Seattle, you definitely need to visit the University of Washington arboretum. It's amazing.

    I live near the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. My sister was glancing through the real estate ads in the local newspaper not long after I moved here 22 years ago (when the newspapers still had real estate ads), and was baffled why people in this area thought it was such a big deal to live near UPS [g].

    1. LOL UPS!

      I've been to the Seattle arboretum a couple of times, particularly the Japanese garden. (Family on both sides in the area, so I've traveled there quite a bit, though not much lately.) It is indeed impressive - on a whole different scale than this one, and more like the Missouri Botanical Garden that I'll post about next.