In addition to being the object of constant adulation, one of the Grump’s foremost pleasures is touring the South’s most beautiful gardens. And if you love fall color as much as I do, there is one garden in Kentucky you must see before you die — Bernheim Arboretum & Research Forest.
This special place near the town of Clermont encompasses 14,000 acres. It was the gift to Kentucky (and the rest of us) by whiskey baron Isaac W. Bernheim, who made his fortune producing I.W. Harper whiskey. Just making good whiskey would have been a sufficient life’s legacy for the Grump, but Bernheim wanted to leave a living legacy that would, in his words, “further the love for the beautiful in nature.”
The photos you see here (like the sugar maple above) are mine.To see much better ones taken by Southern Living photographer Ralphie Anderson (aka the “brain eater’), pick up a copy of the October 2009 issue of Southern Living and turn to “Magnificent Fire of a Southern Fall.” You’ll also read some typically inspiring prose by me.
The Arboretum is a great place to walk, hike, bike, or tour by car. You won’t find a better venue from which to admire the sculptural grace of mature trees in a natural setting. Notable collections include maples, dogwoods, magnolias, conifers, cypresses, hollies, beeches, and buckeyes. You’ll also find a slew of other fine trees perfect for the home garden, like this here Japanese zelkova (Zelkova serrata):
Unenlightened gardeners (of which, thankfully, you are not one) often equate fall color with only colorful leaves. To the Grump, this overlooks a sensational source of fall color — namely, colorful fruits and berries, which last a lot longer than leaves. One of Bernheim’s finest collections is crabapples. Take a gander at this red-fruited one.
Or what about this yellow crab below? I think this one was developed at Bernheim. I’m urging them to name and propagate it. Who wouldn’t want this gem in their yard?
Bernheim is not just about trees. There’s an elaborate trail system that takes you through prairie gardens and wildflower meadows that teem with native plants and animals. I shot the photo below on a cold and frosty October morning. How I suffer for you, my readers!
Before you leave, be sure to check out the ultra-cool Visitor’s Center (below), the first certified Platinum LEED building in Kentucky. Built largely of recycled materials, it captures solar energy, purifies wastewater, and uses geothermal heating and cooling. Notice the way it fits into the landscape. My only suggestion — add a pair of McDonald’s arches.
Got any favorite spots for enjoying fall color or know someone with a magnificent fall garden? Tell Grumpy about it! For more info about Bernheim, visit www.bernheim.org or call (502) 955-8512.
(Note to Bernheim Executive Director Mark Wourms: You know where to send the bourbon.)