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The Parklands

Woodland Garden Construction

Since construction and plant installation began in March 2017, plenty has occurred in the Woodland Garden. The most noticeable is the building of the Kentucky Tree Rondel with its formal, circular foundation and tree planting that will be finished off with a floor and shrub planting.

The Rondel is an outward feature, easy to spot from the Louisville Loop, but lots of additional work has been going on within the woods of this special area. Our talented stonemasons (the same team who built the magnificent stone walls found throughout The Parklands) are currently laying down the stone trails. Each trail is crafted from solid stone that will be a durable, beautiful, all-natural surface. This regionally quarried stone is part of our geologic history.

The Kentucky Coffee Tree Rondel located in the Woodland Garden. Photo by Bob Hower

The stone pathways will meander through various garden “rooms”. Layers of plantings define these rooms; you see these at the edges of the woods now. Within the forest tall trees, short trees, shrubs, and perennial groundcovers make up the layers that provide richness for diversity and beneficial habitat.

A stone pathway in the Woodland Garden. Photo by Tom Smarr

For these 15 acres, we are replenishing layers lost during animal grazing when the property was a farm and removing invasive species that displaced native plants. This spring and summer alone, we’ve added over 3,500 trees and shrubs with almost 15,000 perennials. The placement of these plants is part of the design to create garden rooms that heightens the beauty of the existing trees and perennials. We are editing (pruning) and augmenting (adding similar native plant species) to create a robust garden experience that celebrates our Kentucky native woodlands. We want the Woodland Garden to be an adventure of discovery, while also a place of relaxation.

Woodland Garden. Photo by Tom Smarr

Like our four major parks, this project will be constructed in phases. Currently, we are working in Phase 1. We hope to jump straight into Phase 2 this winter. With construction ongoing, we ask that visitors obey all posted signs and refrain from exploring the Woodland Garden until it officially opens to the public.

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About the Author

Picture of Tom Smarr

Tom Smarr

Tom is a seasoned professional with two decades of experience in horticulture, botanic gardens, conservation, and organic landscaping. He holds a master’s degree in urban horticulture from the University of Washington in Seattle, WA. He has worked for established institutions such as the University of Washington Botanic Gardens in Seattle, WA and New England Wild Flower Society in Framingham, MA. Tom’s most notable work has been leading the management of horticulture at newly urban designed parks starting with the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway opened in 2008 in downtown Boston, MA built on top of the infamous “Big Dig”. Most recently, Tom served as Horticulture Director at the High Line, a public park in New York City along unused, elevated train rails. He recently joined 21st Century Parks in Louisville, KY as Horticulture Director involved in the newly-built model urban park at The Parklands of Floyds Fork. He is committed to the preservation of our cultural landscapes through sensible design, horticulture practices and public education.