Saturday, November 5, 2016
University of Kentucky Arboretum
University of Kentucky Arboretum
We have always enjoyed visiting various universities to explore unique and useful attractions. At the University of Kentucky in Lexington this summer, we stopped one early morning at the 100 acre Arboretum that is a joint project of the University and Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government.
The parking lot had many cars, the trails were active with mothers and one grandfather pushing baby carriages, people walking their dogs and runners keeping in shape.
The assistant at the visitor center said the Arboretum covered a hundred acres and that the two-mile trail gave a sampling of seven landscape regions of Kentucky. She stressed that they grew native plants and had 70 native species growing in the area.
A major offering of the Arboretum is the home demonstration garden. Much experimentation goes on here with master gardeners trying new or unusual vegetables and new techniques of growing them. Lessons are given on a regular basis to locals who want to learn more about growing their own gardens.
On our walk around the garden, we met a young student repainting the trim on one of the tool storage buildings. She said that the produce grown here is given to God’s Pantry as part of the national “Plant a Row for the Hungry" program. They also cooperate with minimum security federal prisoners who start seeds in greenhouses and provide them for spring and summer plantings at the Arboretum.
In some sections we especially enjoyed some of the smells from herb gardens, but there was more than herbs for foods. Some medicinal plants have been used by physicians for centuries and are still in use in modern medicine, such as St. John’s Wort, Foxglove (digitalis), Valerian, and Purple Coneflower (Echinacea).
Herbs for food and medicinal plants are gown at the Arboreturn
One of the goals of the garden is to teach and show methods of gardening that make it assessable to those with various handicaps. Some subjects covered were how to create paths that are hard enough to be assessable by wheels and how to adapt tools so they can be used by people with physical limitations.
On one side of the Arboretum stands a large memorial of 49 steel birds flying into the sky. We a asked a young man working the area, and he said it was to honor 49 citizens of Lexington who were killed in a plane crash ten years ago, that resulted from a combination of pilot error and an exhausted plane control agent. Sealed inside each of the birds was a memento chosen by the student's family. We also talked to two young students who were part of a group of 25 summer interns assisting the regular staff in the maintenance of the area.
49 birds commemorate the 49 citizens of Lexington who were killed in a plane crash
In another section of the Arboretum is The Kentucky Children’s Garden that we missed. What we did enjoy was the Story Walk along the trail, a series of story plaques with poems that children read and then give their reactions. For example, some poems over the course of the walk focus on Gramdpa baking an apple pie showing the influence of the sun, the clouds, the rain, the soil and various other factors that go into the pie that Gramdpa bakes.
The University Of Kentucky uses the area for a wide variety of classes during the school year including: forest ecology, horticulture and art. To return to the original Kentucky ecosystem much attention is being paid to the elimination of invasive species of which they listed 18, seven of which have been successfully eradicated.
All in all, we found it an informative and pleasant morning experience.
The Kentucky Arboretum serves many purposes