Amenities such as a pool, exercise room or pet-friendly dog run can be the deciding factor in choosing an apartment, condo or townhome. Now you can add one more feature to that list: vegetable garden.
Residents and employees at Spring House on the Park (Leinbach.com) on Belleau Wood Drive can attest to the popularity of the 16 newly installed raised bed planters that owner Ed Leinbach designed and had built this spring, right next to the tennis courts.
What motivated the addition? "He started some at other properties in Oklahoma," property manager Amy Blanton said of Leinbach. "It was a big success, and he loved it, so he thought he'd try them here, too."
It seems Leinbach was right on target: All the plots have been claimed, and there's a waiting list of tenants who want one.
The sturdy wood planters, about hip-height, are filled with soil that is at a comfortable reach for most residents. Service manager Frank Bidwell said there are faucets at the corners of the garden area, which can be lit for late evening gardening.
At the garden's grand opening in mid-April, Spring House supplied residents with tomato and pepper transplants, onion sets, seeds and snacks. While planting and conversing, residents got to know one another and share their gardening experiences.
Steffanie Burk, a University of Kentucky student majoring in animal science, said she had been drawn to the apartments by the promise of a garden. She'd raised vegetables like zucchini and tomatoes in Pennsylvania before moving here, but added, "I'm studying horses — that's why I'm planting carrots."
Meanwhile, long-term resident Butch Frazier was putting in cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and his favorite, onions.
"I wanted to get out and have something to do after having a stroke," he says.
We'll be checking in with the Spring House gardeners throughout the growing season. Meanwhile, why not share this idea with your apartment management?
A different Derby Da
The way Tom Barnes tells it, Derby Day is the perfect time to experience the rare splendor of a meadow of white trillium blooming on Black Mountain.
He should know. Barnes, a forestry department professor and wildlife extension specialist at the University of Kentucky, has explored little-seen state preserves and written many books about nature in Kentucky, including the guidebook Wildflowers and Ferns of Kentucky with S. Wilson Francis (The University Press of Kentucky, 344 pp., $29.95), and Kentucky's Last Great Places (The University Press of Kentucky, 204 pp., $35).
Now, Barnes is sharing his know-how in How to Find and Photograph Kentucky Wildflowers (Acclaim Press, 256 pp., $29.95). He's also offering a Nature Photography Workshop that starts Friday at Pine Mountain Settlement School in Harlan County. It runs concurrently with the school's Black Mountain Wildflower Weekend.
Lectures, discussions about students' photographs, field excursions, meals and accommodations for Friday and May 7 are included in the $300 fee. Be sure to bring a camera. To learn more, visit Pinemountainsettlementschool.com or call (606) 558-3571.
Irises are bursting into glorious bloom all around Central Kentucky, and the Bluegrass Iris Society is getting ready to celebrate. The group will hold its annual iris show from 1 to 4:30 p.m. May 14 at The Mall at Lexington Green on the lower level. That show is the precursor to an iris plant sale at the mall on July 30.
The club's next bimonthly meeting will be at a 7 p.m. Thursday at Lexington Public Library, Tates Creek Branch, 3628 Walden Drive. To find out more, go to Bluegrassiris.org, or call Annette Milch at (859) 263-4421.)
Fun and free
Growing Community, an upcoming downtown event, will help you learn more about vegetable and herb gardening, soil preparation, garden maintenance, container gardening and preparing fresh vegetables. It will be 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 14 at William Wells Brown Community Center, 548 East Sixth Street.
Be sure to drop by early because, while supplies last, each family will receive a free garden kit with plants, seeds, a book, T-shirt and hand trowel.
"When back-yard gardens were replaced by supermarkets, we lost the valuable skills for producing the tastiest, freshest, most nutritious food available," said Jamie Dockery, Fayette County Cooperative Extension agent for horticulture, in explaining the importance of the event.
"Our goal with Growing Community is to take our information on the road and give people the basic knowledge and supplies to be successful growing and cooking with back-yard vegetables.
"Did I mention vegetable gardening is just really fun?"
Event sponsors include the Blue Grass Community Foundation, William Wells Brown Family Resource enter, Lexington Parks & Recreation, Seedleaf and the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service.