My good friend, the bacheloring and visiting Mike Sears, dropped in on me this weekend and we actually covered quite a bit of ground. But one of the nicest parts was hitting his junior high school Jeffersonville, Indiana days and those neighborhoods hard along the river. So we found ourselves very close to Utica and I decided to go see Hidden Hill. Mike was enchanted, of course and we got to see Bob who, as always, was as warm and engaging as ever. So I was going to just send this to Mike, but it’s been 4 years since this ran, so I’ll recirculate it a little.
Bob Hill spent 25 years or so working as a journalist for the Louisville Courier Journal writing about diverse issues and subjects including gardening, society and historical facts about Louisville. He is enormously respected as a cool voice with a long view and deep, caring insight. As a book writer, he penned one of my personal favorites: “The Crack Of The Bat”, the definitive history of the world-famous ‘Louisville Slugger’ baseball bat, a tool yours truly has used to good effect and also has broken into varied pieces many, many times as a baseball mutt in an earlier era. A modern day Luddite like me longs for that sound when I venture out to my favorite Spring pastime, sitting as near as I can to Muhammad Ali and watching the University of Louisville “ping” the opposition to death with their metal bats. Bob also wrote a true crime book called “Double Jeopardy”, a local crime which leads him to authoritatively comment and which was featured on the National TV show, Dateline, a couple times and which I read years ago. It is the definitive book on that tale as well, sad as it may be.
Well, Bob Hill is as nice in person and as creative as ever. In fact, he may be doing things that make “unique” look normal. He owns and operates Hidden Hill Nursery, a fascinating, whimsical spot and a must-see on the garden traveler’s road map which also doubles as a nursery, selling exotics. “It’s my niche,” he says with a smile. Bob has most definitely NOT seen the last of me. I am involved in a small project even now which could use a few of his big old Yellow Magnolia’s. He welcomes – for the record – landscapers and designers at almost any time for purposes of sales. He does, after all, run a business in his nursery as well as present a marvelous jaunt amongst his various treasures.
Anyway, so my Mom and I took a jaunt on an unseasonably hot Autumn Day on Sunday, attempting to finally make it to this gorgeous garden on it’s final Open To The Public day of the season. We had spoken of it many times and I had heard rumors of it’s fascinating properties from the sports fans I hang out with at a local sports message board, Inside The Ville, a Scout.com site dedicated to Louisville sports.
Inasmuch as the nursery and garden was compiled around his own home, Bob’s efforts over a long period of time have produced a totally delightful trove of small pleasures and simple beauty which reflect to a real love of the soil and the respect for Nature Herself which Bob gladly and openly brings to the game. Bob Hill is an obvious appreciator of artistic talent and a very non-shy exhibitor of just that. Pssssst…….he has pink bathtubs.
He also features exhaust pipe lizards and a junkyard dog – in a hat no less! – who absolutely reflects that in reality, seen here overlooking a peaceful and gorgeous small waterfall which begins a coursing creek in an outstanding water feature under a cool, shady canopy smack in the middle of the Gardens.
Like everyone I know, of course, Bob also features a very outspoken “oxygen tank duck”:
We were also relieved to find directions posted on some nearby trees, subtle, yet still effective:
As far as this pair of pants (below) is concerned, I mentioned to Bob and his crew who were relaxing nearby that these overalls could “probably walk to get themselves washed”. Thank God they laughed.
Butterfly chairs abounded!
And as fun as all this was and is, Bob Hill is also a serious cultivator and appreciator of gorgeous plants and stunning beauty – all in a variety and diverse number of settings one has to get close to in order to truly appreciate their scope.
Take these automobile-sized leaves, for example, stuck hard solo under yet another cooling canopy -
Since I am not at all certain this picture does justice to the sheer magnitude of these monster leaves, here is another cluster, battling it out with a giant Banana Tree in a sunnier location on the site -
Make no mistake, designers and landscaping aficionados have much to delight their own senses, aside from the whimsical stuff. There are small features throughout the place, well-designed and gorgeous constructions in their own rights. Take this splendid courtyard as an example as we examine it from various views, including closeup pictures of the simple profusion of the prettiest plants in Nature. This “hot” little Chrysanthemum fronts a serene and exceedingly well-designed small patio/coutyard:
Another few views:
A detail I adored - a small, shady perennial Paradise:
This one………………the one below. I had to stop and look twice. Please enlarge.
This is a sculpture whose sensuality belies its metal composition. It plain looks good enough to eat.
This small setting below may say more about this splendid garden wonderland than anything I could have imagined. We happened onto this on our way out – it is across from that splendid pink bathtub!
I have no idea of the purpose of this little clearing – if one exists. But I can aver that this reveals a factor of the epitome of excellent landscape and garden design which shows the invitation and the promise which are the rudiments of the most mysterious and excellent designs in the world. When perception rules in the fields it belongs in and the eye becomes trained to accept mystery and to drink in beauty like a fabulous natural drink, then gardens such as this will be everywhere.
Bob Hill, we absolutely loved our visit. You did real good in my book and my Mom agrees.
That’s unanimous, then.