Bernheim Forest – A “Holy Cow” of Springtime Delights

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There is something nearly Supernatural about this splendid forest, located about 25 miles outside of Louisville, Kentucky, bearing south on I-65. Bernheim Forest can give you its own set of facts and figures and detail its own history from its website right here: Bernheim(in its own words). But I can tell you from first hand experience, what they have done in terms of preservation as well as in experimentation is truly remarkable.

The structure below is their “Canopy Walk” – a bridge to nowhere – which exists to allow a person to admire a truly “bird’s eye view” from high among the tops of the local trees in the middle of the forest. The picture below that one is the view in its current early, raw Springtime form. One can readily see that this is a country ripe with rainfall and plump fat trees and plants, all set into sustaining soils – a richness which has that rare and intriguing quality of just seeming incredibly fortunate and uncommonly beautiful as a result. This is what “Pampered” means in Nature!:  😉

(left click any image to enlarge, click again for detail)

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Kentucky’s forests, especially in this central state view, are a typical riot of deciduous hardwoods, comprising endless species from native Kentucky Coffee Trees (yes, lol) to the Hickory Trees shown here – and onward, to Maples, Oaks, ‘Gums’ of all sorts, Elms and then – wow! – to the SpringTime wonders of the local world – Dogwood Trees and the Native Red Buds. All are just getting underway in the deepst sections of the forest and Bernheim provides drives and alleyways which one can explore either on foot via the well-kept and fabulous trails or even by just plain old car. Here are a couple of “road views” my Mom and I took while coursing through there yesterday:

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There is a somehow “innocent” appeal in the picture below. The simplicity and the big fat lush background of this volunteer Dogwood tree, all scraggly but proud, shows Nature’s best qualities. Survival and beauty coexist in a riot of simple floral beauty, spackling the environment with simplicity but remarkable – nearly Japanese Garden/Zen-like – gorgeousness of form and function.

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Moving along from literary license, we encounter other wonders in this Natural Paradise. Isn’t this pretty?:

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And this? Disgusting, isn’t it? We had a laugh as I named some of these groupings and trees. I called this one, for example “Hot Shot”. He’s totally in his element, man.

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But of even greater impact to many, and I have to include myself to a degree, is the work Bernheim has done in cultivating a captivating environment not just for the Natural side of things – but as a “Garden”. They have featured Kentucky’s greatest products – (no, NOT Bourbon!  That’s later.) – these “great” items being natural Bluegrass and these wonderful trees and plants, together in ways which clear the mind and soul with devastating vistas of glorious color and, really, totally extravagant beauty:

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And in this regard they feature the ‘Margins’ of natural forest and cultivation.

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This beautiful grove at the back end of Bernheim’s cultivated park area is exceptionally special to me. It is the location where we spread my Father’s ashes following his passing in 1983, spread far to the left of the statue and among his favorite spots on Earth. He has a headstone of course, at my Mom’s family plot in Illinois, representing his military service and occupying the space among so many of his friends from those days. They are no doubt delighted by yet more of his fun-loving foolishness and charm. But it is here in Bernheim where I find him in my heart. Yeah, Bernheim is special to me for this reason. He was just a terrific guy and I miss him. Pardon the interruption. But you have to admit it’s a cool spot, eh?

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This meandering road leads up to the Statue Garden above. The placidity and lushness of all these forms and colors provide the utter uniqueness of this wonderful place, designed by this marvelous combination of Nature and rigorous planning. The split rail fences are of the type which were commonest for farms and properties back when Kentucky was settled. Those modern lines never seem to get old – in spite of their simplicity. Nice Sycamore to the left, as well.

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I’m closing it down for now – I have 100 or so pictures and have really just begun. Tomorrow – or next post – I will deal with a most revelatory discovery – an absolutely unique grove of Magnolia Soulangiana cultivars and hybrids – the range of blossoms was stunning – with colors from brilliant purple and white to yellow and even to – I kid you not – green blooms. Here’s one now.Bernheim Spring 095

Random Pictures of Interest – Yawwwwwwwn

Strictly eye candy – hopefully enough to keep everyone entertained……… 😉

I am running extremely whimsical with this. In a way, I am just showing pictures from my Mighty Massive photo file system which have not appeared here before. New blood, as it were.

It also gives a chance to plain have some fun without too much hyped-up thematic discipline, so it’s even cooler. The pic below is my brother Mike posing with our very own Mother, often referred to as “Mom”.  They both seem reasonably happy, so why not etch that rare moment on historical online Eternity? 🙂 I lied, of course. Truth is, we spend most of our time laughing.

Anyways, sashay with me through various and sundry pictures, none of which match.

(left click all images to enlarge – sometimes twice for real detail)

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Here’s a hole in the wall at the Chinese Garden in Portland, Oregon.

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Modernistic planting, somewhere.

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Let’s face it. You don’t see Dry Water every day…………

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A highly-suspicious plant.

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Some interesting Iron Work a very good iron man did at a project of ours.

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Here’s some iron work of Antonia Gaudi’s. Now THIS is a gate!

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This fountain always tickles me.

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The Portland Japanese Garden is inspiring, quiet and beautiful. Even the fish agree:

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Yew Dell Gardens in Fall. Dude could use a haircut and a shave.

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Here’s that big Singapore fountain at night:

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Now, this is a river.

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Multnomah Fall just outside of Portland.

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I always loved traveling this stretch of road between Reno and Portland, Oregon. It was about 540 miles – which is a grind no matter how scenic – but this approach to Mt. Hood not only meant I was getting into more treed areas, it also meant I was within about 60 miles of home. Even in Summer – with the snow nearly gone – Mt. Hood was like a relaxing sight.

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Here’s a flower!

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Dealing with the desert – you can find some strangeness, for sure. Here is a mulch only a lizard could love. The good news is it grew up nicely.

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And the desert can bloom – don’t let anyone tell you different!

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Prune This!!!!!!!!!! 😉

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This is a lot of moving water. 6,000 gallons a minute, to be exact.

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Narwals:

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Making Bubble Rocks can put you in some tight spaces.

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And some are tighter than others:

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I always have liked what we did in making this little creek.

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I absolutely love this picture. I shamelessly add it here, not knowing where I got it. I hope the author does not mind.

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“Sobering” applies to this military cemetery in Louisville, I’d think. It is amazing quiet here. Speaking as a veteran, I often wish more of us would visit these places. You’d be amazed at how many connections you have here and elsewhere.

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You know you’re up early when this sight greets you on the drive to work. Of course, then again, it could be lunch time in the Yukon in December. 😉

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Would this be called a “Green Building”?

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Here’s something you DON’T want to see when you get low on gas.

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Those nutty Barcelonans will do anything for a laugh.

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An interesting landscaping idea?

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Here’s Louis XIV and an escaped horse in downtown Louisville.

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This is what it’s like driving from Reno, over the mountain to lake Tahoe in Winter.

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A patio and landscaping project in Portland.

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You don’t see rocks like this every day. Nor woodwork, for that matter.

HPIM1274An interesting Architectural feature from the Portland, Oregon Chinese Garden.

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The Truckee River as it courses through the midst of downtown Reno, Nevada. This shot is at the head of the fabricated kayak run, designed for competitions. Yes, it is in the middle of town.

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A luxury swimmin’ hole we helped construct in the woods near Lake Tahoe. We did everything on top – just not the pool itself. The paving, rocks and all that are ours,

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Another fountain, now that I am the Fountain Maven at my new blog at Pond And Fountain World………nothing special, just quite unique.

And unusual.

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Anyone seen my Narwal?

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Blending Light With Water

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The mixtures of physical elements reaches a real sort of crescendo when we combine the simple concepts of Nighttime and artificial lighting humans install around their various architectural concoctions of water-based landscaping. From tiny doorway ponds, set just beside our front doors to provide the gurgling sounds of Peace and the small lights we install to enhance its nighttime appearance to the massive structures of light and water magic itself in cities like Barcelona, Dubai, Las Vegas and Singapore, our craving for beauty never stops. The fact that these altogether wholesome and wonderful urges get met by designers and inventors with our highest hopes implicit yields the fabulous work we see below.

The illusions Noguchi sought in his “9 Floating Fountains” constructed for the 1970 Osaka Worls’s Fair still glimmer in the Osaka nights, seemingly dumping tons of water from tight square clouds.

What seems most remarkable, in the end, is the role lighting played in this marvelous bit of architectural whimsy. We do also understand that lights combined with water both bend and refract the light rays in incredibly pronounced ways. We see this from far smaller scale water features in lakes, ponds and the more strictly residential and homey edifices we make ourselves.

 

The tendency for water to literally conduct light waves gives us possibilities which can provide wonder from the smallest, tiny pond sizes, such as this:

 

The larger, a bit more expensive gobs of visual pleasure which take on a visceral magic….

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..and reaching a sort of Ultimate in Grand Designs of the most far-thinking architects and artists on a gigantic scale -:

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We are so fortunate, in the end, to have modern specialists who now seemingly routinely embrace the lighting and water phenomenon and who have designed a great series of total wonders as our own eye candy and inner thrills. Light Shows have made not only the lexicon of modern life but also have come to represent many of the highest achievements in architecture.

The magnificent urban setting set the standard in the world for what would come next. Other cities proceeded to become equally fountain-famous – Kansas City, New York for the World’s Fair in 1936, Osaka in 1970, leading to the extravagant masterpieces of the casinos in Las Vegas, Macau and Singapore.

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In Singapore, for instance, new machinery creates a foggy, wet background upon which to display video and laser elements in a near 3D fashion. Their light shows are becoming totally legendary. Here’s a video from a show taken by an individual’s phone:

Making the Unusually Wonderful is getting easier and hopefully more common. We can all be glad of this.

A Louisville Treasure – Hidden Hill Nursery

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Like everyone I know, of course, Bob also features a very outspoken “oxygen tank duck”:

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We were also relieved to find directions posted on some nearby trees,  subtle, yet still effective:

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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.

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Butterfly chairs abounded!

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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 –

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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 –

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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:

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Another few views:

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A detail I adored –  a small, shady perennial Paradise:

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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.

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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.

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Bob Hill, we absolutely loved our visit. You did real good in my book and my Mom agrees.

That’s unanimous, then. 🙂