The Keeneland Association, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, will itself be a highlight of the upcoming Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation's 14th annual Antiques and Garden Show at Keeneland Race Course's Keene Barn.
In addition to a superb offering of antiques, garden décor and expert speakers, there will be Keeneland's Behind the Scenes Tour at 9 a.m. March 11, hosted by Keeneland president and chief executive Nick Nicholson. Planned stops include a morning workout on the Polytrack course; visits to recently renovated Keene Place and the sales pavilion; and a peek at the library's archival collection of the Daily Racing Form, which has the only surviving copies of some issues.
Nicholson also will give a lecture, "Keeneland: A Thoroughbred Legacy," at 11:30 a.m. March 12.
Fran Taylor, executive director of the Keeneland Foundation, gave an advance look at one of the items on display: jockey silks covered with autographs of people involved in Thoroughbred racing's early years. The silks were signed for a 1942 charity auction that raised $350,000 for the Fayette County War Chest. They bear the classic green and white of Col. E.R. Bradley's Idle Hour Farm, home to four Kentucky Derby winners, including Burgoo King in 1932.
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Daily admission to the show, March 11 to 13, is $10. Reservations and additional fees are required for some events. Call (859) 253-0362 or go to Bgtantiquesandgardenshow.org for more information.
Prison garden needs help
The vegetable garden project at the Bureau of Prisons' Federal Medical Center on Leestown Road could use your help.
Last year, according to program coordinator Stan Glass, several church groups, garden clubs and individuals donated equipment, vegetable and flower plants and seeds, money, and information on gardening and produce distribution, resulting in an outstanding season.
The prison's garden crew raised 16,320 pounds of produce, which was given to local charities, Glass said. The program provides work, skills and a sense of giving back to society for 10 to 16 female inmates. For details, contact Glass at Crbgarden@gmail.com.
A great seed company
Renee's Garden is a mail-order seed company that walks the garden walk, and does it well. Owner Renee Shepherd takes care with the products she develops, scouting worldwide for the best vegetable, herb and flower varieties, then testing them in gardens in the United States. '
Her involvement and presence in the company in Felton, Calif., is reflected in the way she personalizes its marketing style — from the classy seed packets with extra growing information and gorgeous color illustrations, to her socially conscious efforts in fund-raising projects for schools and non-profits, and seed donations in support of community-oriented gardens.
You can read her blog for inspiration and advice, look at photos from the test gardens, and join an online community of gardeners to share your stories. Whether your interest is in flowers, such as the unusual Apricot Blush zinnia assortment, or vegetables, such as this year's new offering, Wine Country mesclun, the seeds are superior growers and interesting selections. Renee's Garden Web site is Reneesgarden.com.
If you're a new gardener looking for information about growing vegetables and flowers, a great place for the basics is Better Homes and Gardens magazine. Since the early 1920s, Meredith Corp. has published this monthly magazine, featuring inspirational ideas and how-tos for gardening, home projects and cooking.
The March issue, just out, has hints for using tulips and other bulbs in container parings, and steps for beginners to start a bright cottage garden in suburban yards, using big, beautiful clematis, peonies and alliums.
A 12-month subscription through Bhg.com is $5.99, a real deal considering newsstand issues are $3.99.
In addition to the magazine, Better Homes and Gardens has a line of practical gardening books, published through John Wiley and Sons Inc. They're $19.95 each and average 300 pages. They're well organized and packed with helpful color photographs and updated harvest information based on generations of American gardening in the previous century. Each book comes with a mail-in card for a free one-year subscription to Better Homes and Gardens magazine.