Just a year ago, local equine veterinarian and gardener Dede McGehee was featured in this section. The story began: "A winning Kentucky Derby style includes fast horses and fancy hats, combined with a soft-spoken Southern gentility and the pastoral charm of the rolling Bluegrass."
How prophetic. Although McGehee, who focuses on raising fillies and breeding older mares, did not have a horse in last year's races, she entered St. John's River in the Kentucky Oaks this year, and against 30-1 odds placed second after a spectacular and challenging ride by 23-year-old jockey Rosie Napravnik.
Just before the race, McGehee discovered home and garden expert Martha Stewart checking out Thoroughbreds in the backside barns. McGehee's own farm and garden were recently featured in Stewart's Living magazine. The women were surprised and delighted to meet.
Check out Stewart's blog at Themarthablog.com for photos and her reaction, highlighted by cashing in a ticket thanks to St. John's River's run.
Berea garden tour
In the mood to visit some gardens this weekend to glean a bit of inspiration? Head to Berea on Saturday for the Berea Arts Council's third annual tour, temptingly titled Palettes of Passion and Creative Expression.
Eight gardens are on the tour. There are practical lessons, too. Events include a noon discussion of bamboo's mystery by Dave Zurick and demonstrations at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. by alpine gardener Alan Grainger on creating hypertufa planters. Throughout the day, paper makers Dorie Hubbard and Heather Richardson will show how to transform plants into paper.
One of my favorite gardens, full of color and creativity, is Mary Startzman's back yard at 3 Fairway Drive. Around every corner there is a surprise waiting to be discovered.
During the tour you may pick up home-grown perennials, gardening books and other items at the plant sale. The tour is 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.. Tickets are $12 and may be purchased at any garden. For a complete list, visit Bereaartscouncil.org, or call (859) 985-9317
Book looks at vernacular gardens
Places for the Spirit: Traditional African American Gardens. Vaughn Sills. Trinity University Press. 140 pp. $29.95.
More than 20 years ago, photographer Vaughn Sills recognized a certain style and spirit in Bea Robinson's garden in Athens, Ga. Elements in these vernacular gardens, created not by professional design but simply in the course of life at home, include practical benches in shady spots; sheds and chicken coops; artfully repurposed objects like dolls, shiny pots, bottle trees, white-washed tire planters, yard flamingos and a washing machine; and, of course, beautiful flowers.
Since then, Sills has traveled throughout the South, searching for and recording black and white images from more than 150 similar gardens and their creators.
Sills' photographs present the essence of what emerges when a special gardener and unique piece of land work their magic, leaving visitors with a new vision, and a quest to learn more. It's about time their glow got some glory.
Travel in 'America's Heartland'
America's Heartland is a television series that features stories about people and agricultural products that are grown across the United States.
Episodes about Kentucky have included salsa making, bourbon production, horses, cattle production, fungi growing and more.
Now in its sixth season, the series has traveled to 50 states and has done a special report featuring the White House vegetable garden in Washington, D.C.
With so many people unaware of where their food comes from before it appears on grocery shelves or in fast-food bags, this program serves to shed some light on the work farmers do, what it's like to live in a farm family and how agriculture works.
The half-hour series is produced by KVIE-TV in Sacramento, Calif., but at this time is not carried on many PBS stations in Kentucky. But you can watch the episodes on program's Web site, Americasheartland.org.