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

Bernheim Forest On A Sunny Fall Day

Spectacular stuff. After getting our Mother home, we took her for a spin in her favorite spot in the galaxy because we knew the scene was going to be white hot – or maybe red hot – with Fall colors. We guessed right.

If you click on the pictures, they’ll expand for you.


 The timing was perfect. Lower and more protected levels of the drive – consistently warmer micro climates in these woods – still have a ton of green. It contrasts with marginally more exposed and the higher levels in magnificent ways. The drive itself – and it is not long – winds through forest, revealing more color as we advance.


 Some of it spectacular indeed.




We approach my favorite spot of them all in Bernheim Woods – the Canopy Walk – with some serious excitement and let it all unfold around us.


It’s definitely gorgeous in spades.


The sights are strong and full of color and the thrilling sense of depth all these hardwood forests give so generously. This even smells like a cool forest.


On the approach, we look over the edge and see down into the forest floor and canopy from above it all. It is pretty breath-taking.


Fullness and a rotating sense greet the eyes as we feel a bit elevated and a lot intrigued.


We get to the end and there we are – above and beyond in a full spectrum Autumn Show.




It is pretty much too pretty for words as we return to the lower regions and discover something wonderful.



Pretty cool stuff.

Just More Dum Spring Pictures

More Spring glories………

This has been a somewhat epic Spring – early by a month, enticing as all get-out with the proliferation of blooming things as well as some equally unseasonable scents to go with the flowers. I had forgotten how great Kentucky can smell.

(enlarge pictures by left-clicking) Please 😉

I can’t get enough of these gorgeous blooms.

This dogwood explains its design, set next to this white home and co-existing with such an enhancing flowering.

More of the Native Pinks, the Dogwoods have truly been the stars of the local show for my money.

Here, once again, is Nature’s rendition of a chaotic romp set in little Audubon Park in Louisville.

This is pretty much the butt-kickingest Redbud I’ve seen so far.

The “roadside look” I always enjoy. These blooming things show up in all the local forests, creating a lacy framework around which the visible harbingers of Spring group. Notice too all the super-young leaves on local trees as they grow and re-color to their deeper greens as the season progresses.

Inside the local neighborhood, things are picking up serious steam as well.

This Kwanzan Cherry tree does its usual double-blooming trick, increasing the weight on those branches by about 10 times.

All in all, we are so blessed here.



Spring Spectacular

It’s gone a little crazy here. This bizarre early Spring is a month early which is not to say I am crying tears of Rage over it. That would be laughingly inaccurate.  😉

We took a small trip to Bernheim Woods because that’s where one goes to find out what the best things in this world are – and Bernheim delivered. Nor is this to say I did not have a hallucinating great time walking my local ville and even Owensboro, where I spent time with two wonderful people, one my very original old flame the other my most influential adult growing up. I could have easily and happily spent more time with each but I also left each feeling refreshed and soulful. And wanting more.

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The colorful Crabapple grove below is one of Bernheim’s greatest tricks. They tend to mass blooming things in fabulous arrays of sumptuousness for the eyes (and nose!) as the flowering Crabapples below testify.

It was further up the car-directed trails where my Ma and I were most driven to visit – all curious about what the Forest Canopy Walk would offer. The little succulent lime green leaves of Kentucky Spring are just trotting out some muscular leaf activity on these forests of crazily- and widely- mixed species.

The view over the edge goes forever, with beautiful punctuations of subtle colors which you must see to really understand. Great forest scents are out, with both the native Dogwoods and Redbuds pushing blooms like hot dog salesmen in the Manhattan business district.

I absolutely adore the iron work on this forest canopy walk. Simple, safe but still somehow visually arresting, the Bernheim Forest has themselves an absolute feature with this outstanding edifice.

This is my Mother, just before she jumped. Yes, I tried “talking her down” – I mean, I watched Dirty Harry – but she was having too much fun. I’ll probably miss her.

It’s actually a long way down and, no, she didn’t jump. I was just funnin’.

Notice my accent changing?

But it is the distant views that bring home the season like few other images. One can see Winter still has the slightest grip on some dubious trees, a little reluctant to bust out like their neighbors.

Lacy blooms adorn these dense hardwood forests like gorgeous necklaces around the loved ones nearby. Shared in scent, color and texture, the very depth of Nature’s Beauty shows off here in 360 degrees of fulfillment, delicately and yet boldly.

The subtle graces of these stunningly rich Spring forest views reveal themselves to a delighted populace who universally speak of and enjoy these forests with pride and a very real Kentucky wonder.

Almost diabolical in their tactics, planners of this luscious resource obviously take a perverse pride in augmenting these forests views with sneaky Fuschia coloring in their foregrounds, a trick of designing which never fails to absolutely hypnotize the rest of us idiots with a smiling pleasure. Honestly, this view is outrageous. Please enlarge.

Truth is, Mom and I caught more than one mere day’s worth of glory out there. For example, when we came back to town, we tripped over to Audubon Park where various crazy neighborhoods host a Dogwood Festival each year.

I mean, its hard to imagine why!