Attracting Attention with Colorful Plants
Floral displays throughout Lexington add vibrant color through the efforts of our dedicated Parks and Recreation staff. The city maintains hundreds of pots, baskets, rain gardens, and flower beds on street level in the downtown area alone. Some of the most notable displays are located at:
o Government Center, 200 E. Main
o Gratz Park, 2nd and 3rd Streets between Mill and Market
o Picadome, Park & Recreation Offices, 469 Parkway Drive
o Fayette County Detention Center, 600 Old Frankfort Circle
o Senior Citizens Center, 195 Life Lane
o Vine and Old Vine Streets
o Elm Tree Lane and Main Streets
The Wellington Park Daffodil Drift is a wave of color in the spring that can be seen from New Circle Road, one of the city’s main roadways.
The drift of thousands of donated bulbs is planted by community volunteers and is added to each year in celebration of our Community Champions.
Raven Run Nature Sanctuary, maintained by Parks and Recreation, is a great place to view Kentucky wildflowers spring through fall. More than 300 different varieties of wildflowers, including blue-eyed Mary and other rare varieties, can be found at Raven Run.
VisitLex developed and publishes a Garden & Architecture Tour and booklet with maps highlighting some of our most beautiful gardens and historic homes.
The Arboretum State Botanical Garden of Kentucky began in 1986 and is a joint effort between the University of Kentucky and the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government. It covers 100 acres and includes a two-mile paved path showcasing the seven geophysical regions of Kentucky. In 2000, The Arboretum was named the official State Botanical Garden of Kentucky. In 2011, the Kentucky Children’s Garden opened. In 2015, LFUCG and the University of Kentucky signed a strategic plan which ensures the future of The Arboretum through 2086. Floral displays at the Arboretum include: Rose Garden, Fragrance Garden, Perennial Garden, Herb Garden, Edible Garden, Pollinator Pathways, All American trials and displays, ground cover displays, and annual flowers.
The University of Kentucky’s campus consists of over 800 acres. Each year the Grounds Department plants over 60 display beds with both annuals and perennials, growing 99% of the over 3300 flats of annuals planted on campus. On average over 60,000 individual plants are planted and maintained by this Department, in addition to the thousands of shrubs and trees on campus. Over the years, perennials have become a major ingredient in the designs. This direction saves labor, water and is less disruptive to the root systems of trees.
In the middle of the busy campus is the Ruth Mathews Garden, home to a variety of native plants used for teaching and research. Located at the corner of South Limestone and Washington Avenue, it was designed by Clarence Wentworth Mathews when the location was his home. It was sold to the University in 1968 and is a favorite respite on campus.
The Downtown Lexington Partnership encourages businesses, organizations and property owners to enhance the beauty of downtown by presenting a downtown area Landscape and Streetscape Award of Excellence each year.
The Garden at Ashland, The Henry Clay Estate, is home to over 120 varieties of trees, shrubs and flowers. The center of the garden is divided into parterres, marked by collections of herbs, roses, and charming ornamental iron benches and bronze statues. Around the edge of the garden are mixed borders filled with annuals, perennials and small shrubs in a variety of colors, forms and textures. To the east of the original garden is a collection of Professor A.P. Saunders’ hybrid peonies, an old hybrid that is still in great demand by gardeners worldwide. The Garden Club of Lexington has cared for and maintained this garden since 1950.
The Lexington Cemetery, established in 1848, has a main floral garden that is just over an acre. From the beginning, it was designed as a park-like, landscaped cemetery. Over 25,000 annuals and 25,000 spring bulbs are planted in the garden each year.
Michler’s Florist and Greenhouses displays an extensive garden plant selection. The first of seven large greenhouses on this spot was built in 1907 by Charlie Michler, and the operation has stayed in the family all these years, thriving right in the middle of the historic Aylesford neighborhood
Several historic homes open for tour in Lexington include small period gardens including the herb and flower gardens at Waveland State Historic Site; a small antebellum era “city garden” and gazebo at the Hunt-Morgan House; and a charming yet compact, formal 19th-century herb and perennial garden at the Mary Todd Lincoln House.
Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital Therapy Garden – Lexington’s Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital’s Grow Again Garden is a cooperative project of the Hospital and Fayette County Extension Master Gardeners. It features accessible beds of cutting flowers, herbs, native plants, a hummingbird garden, and vegetables used in the facility kitchen. A popular patient therapy is cutting flowers to take back to the rooms, and patients are always on the lookout for the duck nests, butterflies, dragonflies and other wildlife. The garden is a registered Monarch Waystation and hosts a Little Free Library.
Griffin Gate Marriott Resort – At a major gateway to Lexington, this former farmland property preserves the original southern-style mansion which is visible from the road, however the breathtaking flower-lined driveways and entrance steals all of one’s attention as you enter the property.
Lexington in Bloom “Curb Appeal” Contest – The Lexington Council Garden Clubs sponsors the Lexington in Bloom contest. This biennial event began in 1992 to recognize distinctive gardens – particularly floral displays – both residential and commercial. Only those designs which are visible to the public from the street are considered. Recently, a miscellaneous category was added to include community/vegetable gardens, rain gardens, mailboxes, window boxes, and containers. Monarch Waystations were added in 2016. After two rounds of judging, the winners are honored and recognized at a June reception at the UK Arboretum. AIBLex applauds and supports this contest by serving as volunteer judges.
St. James Place Garden – At this shelter and recovery house for vets located on Elm Tree Lane in the heart of downtown, one might not think a garden of any value could be created between buildings and parking lots. Despite a challenging site filled with concrete, rock and backfill, by using watering troughs and straw bales, residents have been able to expand to a three-season garden.
Chevy Chase/Ashland Park neighborhoods (streets around and east of Ashland, The Henry Clay Estate); and the Kenwick neighborhood (Mentelle Park, Victory and other streets off Richmond Road east of downtown), are beautifully in bloom, spring through fall.
112 Master Gardeners volunteer over 5,200 hours each year through 22 community gardening, education, and support events.
Lexington Council Garden Clubs (LCGC), part of National Garden Clubs, has six member clubs. LCGC promotes gardening, floral design, and civic and environmental responsibility through sponsorship of the biennial Lexington in Bloom contest and (with Fayette County Master Gardeners) an annual flower and vegetable show during the Lion’s Club Bluegrass Fair. They have funded numerous garden projects throughout Lexington from proceeds from their biennial Open Gates to Bluegrass Living Garden Tour.
Seedleaf, a nonprofit organization, has established more than 15 community vegetable gardens where volunteers grow food, share the bounty, educate the public, and compost food remnants from restaurants.
More than 130 Monarch Waystations have been installed at schools, parks, businesses and homes in Lexington.
Volunteers maintain gardens at Hope Lodge and Ronald McDonald House near UK Medical Center, Waveland State Historic Site, John Hunt Morgan House in Gratz Park, the flower and vegetable gardens at the Arboretum, the Women’s Remembrance Garden at Wellington Park and many more.
The Lexington chapter of Wild Ones planted and maintains a number of native species demonstration gardens including a pollinator garden at the entrance to Wellington Park and numerous Monarch way stations. Group volunteers offer presentations and conduct tours of native plant gardens for the Lexington community.