By Frank Kourt
For the fifth year, Berea gardeners threw open the gates of their gardens to share them with the world.
This year’s event, sponsored by the Berea Arts Council, featured seven gardens, five of them private.
The tour began at the old L&N Railroad Depot, now the city’s welcome center, which boasts a garden planned by Rockcastle County native and New York City designer John Carloftis.
Each garden had its own personality, but all were similar in that they displayed great love for, and dedication to, growing things.
The L&N Garden presented a sunny place highlighted by a circular potpourri of intermingled bright flowers, greenery and ornamental grasses. Amid its bordering plants and shrubs, visitors could relax on neat little stone benches.
Katie Heckman’s “Rose Cottage in Early June” took on the look of a lush English garden, complete with a shady gazebo and a vine-covered trellis. It includes a colorful section Heckman lovingly calls the children’s garden, because the flowering plants there are low, colorful and fragrant.
Tom Miller’s “Mists, Falls, Streams and Ponds at Knob Cascades” is something of a legend among the local gardening community. Miller said its elaborate cascading water feature took him about five years to construct.
Miller’s masterpiece is about serenity and trees – most of them cypress. It provides a quiet retreat broken only by the gentle splashing sound of 11,000 gallons of recirculating water that trickles down a rocky terraced area, with a koi pond, just off the back deck of Miller’s home.
David Saladino, who billed his offering as “Flowers, Food and Foliage in Harmony,” made sure it lived up to its description. Visitors found patches of both greenery and bright blooms at most every turn. A fence area boasted such delights as snowpeas, lettuce, beet greens and Swiss chard mingled with a selection of herbs, including varieties of basil.
Like most gardeners, Saladino, who designed the Union Church Memorial Garden, also on this year’s list, was happy to share information about the various plants, including the campanula cherry bells that attracted a lot of attention from visitors.
Mary Startzman’s “Mystical Magic Secret Garden” also lived up to its name, reflecting Startzman’s love of animals and plants.
Water features played host to koi, and even a live frog. Whimsical statuary of animals, birds and mythical beasts, such as a ceramic dragon, stood guard over colorful annuals and perennials in the sunny spaces, and woodland plants in the shaded areas.
The whimsical garden even features a tree house, from which visitors could look down on the entire eclectic mixture of sun and shade.
Adriel Woodman’s “American Gothic Spacious Splendor,” featured islands of colorful flowers, interspersed with ornamental grasses, trees, shrubs and even vegetables. In between were nice expanses of lawn.
“It’s a canvas, and you sort of paint it,” Woodman explained.
The Union Church Memorial Garden creates a type of quiet sanctuary on the grounds of the imposing church – a place where folks can seek quiet contemplation among colorful roses and plants ranging from shade-loving astilbes to colorful gerbera daisies and two varieties of lavender.
Whether contemplating an impressive waterfall, wandering through shaded paths, or contemplating the beauty of endless forms of flora, visitors were able to get a glimpse of how others spend their gardening time. The also garnered fresh ideas for their own gardening efforts, be they humble or grand.