Tour four fine gardens and help a good cause

Contributing columnistJune 5, 2010 

For the first time, the Garden Conservancy, a national organization, has arranged an Open Days program tour in Lexington.

Four private gardens will be open to visitors 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 5. The event is a fund-raiser to support the conservancy's work in preserving and maintaining historical landscapes around the country, including Yew Dell Gardens in Crestwood.

Private gardens on the tour are:

■ Elvis and Geneva Donaldson's Hope House in Gratz Park. It's an urban oasis featuring a series of garden rooms, a large open lawn with a free-form stone terrace, and a pond and waterfall.

■ The Gaines garden at Mount Hope. The garden includes a boxwood parterre, a woodsy holly grove and sculptures including a pair of Foo dogs and an impressive Chinese dignitary guarding the grounds.

■ Betsy and Louis Hillenmeyer's home. The Hillenmeyers will share their colorful perennials, gazebo, water features and sitting space with an outdoor fireplace.

■ Jerry and Sonia Woodall's home. The Woodalls will allow visitors to enjoy views of their free-form gunnite pool and bluestone terrace.

Reservations are not required, and the event will go on rain or shine. To begin the self-guided tour, start at Springhouse Gardens, at 6041 Harrodsburg Road, Nicholasville. Watch for signs marking the way. The cost is $5 a garden; free for children 12 and younger. For more information, go to and

A day in Pisgah country

If you want to take a short drive just outside of town, the Pisgah Community Historic Association's 18th annual A Day in the Country is 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 5. Rain or shine, there will be pony rides, face painting, lunch, a raffle, and a rummage sale with toys, clothes, plants, garden accessories and household furnishings. The event will be at Ashbrook Farm, about two miles north of Versailles Road on Pisgah Pike. Proceeds will be used to preserve and beautify the Pisgah Historic Agricultural District.

Lexington in Bloom

The Lexington Council Garden Clubs has revived its "Lexington in Bloom" contest in time to spiff up front yards for World Equestrian Games visitors, and to encourage a bit of civic pride.

Anyone with a garden visible from the street may enter, or you can nominate a place worthy of recognition in your neighborhood. Winners will be named in four categories: residential gardens designed by an amateur; those designed by a professional; business gardens, which include gardens at schools, churches and hospitals; and miscellaneous. The deadline for nominations and entries is July 12, and judging will be July 19-26.

Winners will be recognized at a reception 2 to 4 p.m. Aug. 1 at The Arboretum on Alumni Drive. Entry forms are available at public library branches and independent nurseries. Questions? Send e-mail to review

Insectopedia by Hugh Raffles. Pantheon Books. 468 pp. $29.95.

Raffles writes essays that describe his encounters with insects. In general, the subject matter is not so much entomology as it is reminiscences of a world traveler, with leanings toward anthropology, which Raffles teaches at The New School in New York City.

As an organizational feature, titles for each chapter progress through letters of the alphabet. Raffles reaches into history for topics and fascinating ideas, which are carried sometimes by poetic images and other times with straightforward science.

The book opens and closes with an on-target quote by French philosopher Gaston Bachelard: "The miniscule, a narrow gate, opens up an entire world."

And Raffles welcomes us through it.

Reach master gardener Susan Smith-Durisek at

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