Some people get into growing or gardening because of a certain type of plant, such as roses or orchids. Others are drawn to the hobby as a calming, meditative practice. For Bob Bobrow, the venture began 18 years ago as a way to attract hummingbirds into his St. Matthews backyard.
“The garden started small in 2004 and gradually grew to fill our entire lot,” Bobrow told The Courier Journal. “Every expansion was prompted by finding a new plant or plant type that we wanted to include in the garden or a desire to attract wildlife — hummingbirds, goldfinch, butterflies, and dragonflies, for example.”
Today, the immaculate garden includes everything from basic flora including daylilies, irises, peonies, hostas, and roses, to less-common plants such as crossvine, lady slippers, spigelia marilandica, toad lilies, Turk’s cap lilies, Canada lilies, cup plants, and a variety of peonies. The space also boasts a sizeable collection of large rocks, as well as 20 varieties of Japanese maple.
A tree beginning
“(I) got started … on the Japanese maple kick when I was about nine or 10 years old,” Bobrow explained. “My uncle … had an orchard and … some ornamental trees, and I remember him taking me out one day and showing me this tree that had red leaves. In 1969 … they weren’t that common around here.”
Decades later, Bobrow and his brothers inherited the land — and he remembered the tree. With a lot of effort and several helping hands, he was able to transfer the maple to his front yard, where it still sits to this day.
Other elements of the garden are also Japanese-inspired, including the small koi pond, as well as the birdbath set on the side of the driveway.
“The birdbath is wabi-sabi style,” Bobrow explained. “The idea (is that) that you don’t want something perfect. You just want a natural look.”
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Itoh peonies — hybrids from a tree peony bred with an herbaceous peony, created by Japanese horticulturist Dr. Toichi Itoh — are sprinkled throughout.
“I love peonies,” Bobrow exclaimed. “You can’t really get much prettier than that. … The (Itoh peonies) have a yellow cast to them; regular peonies don’t … and there’s a lot more color variation to them.”
Bobrow’s garden boasts a plethora of plants, but he says his favorites are the Canada lilies, which are native to North America.
“It’s a really pretty plant,” he said. “It’ll get (three to eight feet) tall, then (the) blooms will splay and fall over, and they hang much like the blooms of the columbine.”
He’s also fond of the various peonies he has planted, including the Itohs. But when it comes to the best part of the garden itself, Bobrow says it’s a combination of having the finished space and the act of putting in the work to create it.
“Every evening, if it’s nice, we’re sitting out here,” he said, adding that in the mornings, he’ll be seated on the opposite end. Multiple chairs and benches are spread throughout so that the views from all angles can be enjoyed in different ways, depending on where the sun hits at any particular time of day.
“In the end, that’s the most enjoyable part,” he said. “But something about doing it all yourself makes it more enjoyable. … I think anybody who is a real gardener has a really strong control impulse, (because) you’re creating your own world.”
Bobrow’s garden is one of seven that are being showcased in the 2022 Kilgore Home & Garden Tour.
WHAT: The 2022 Kilgore Home & Garden Tour showcases seven of Louisville’s most outstanding gardens, as well as the interior of one home. Proceeds from the self-guided tour provide support to the Kilgore Samaritan Counseling Center for those who are unable to pay the full fee for counseling.
WHEN: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., June 11-12
WHERE: The self-guided tour can begin at any of the seven addresses listed on the event website.
TICKETS: Tickets are $35 for adults and $5 for children. Tickets can be purchased online, at any of the garden locations on the day of the tour, or at one of the offsite locations: Second Presbyterian Church (weekdays only), St. Francis in the Fields Episcopal Church (weekdays only), St. Matthews Feed and Seed, Digs Home & Garden, European Splendor, Secret Garden, or the Kilgore Counseling Center.
MORE INFORMATION: Visit kilgorecounseling.org/home-garden-tour/the-tour/ for more information, full descriptions of the gardens, and to purchase tickets.
nuts & bolts
Owners: Bob and Marla Bobrow. Bob is an attorney and Marla is a paralegal. Also in the home is Will Bobrow, who is a student.
Home: This is a 3-bed, 2-bath, 1,900-square-foot Tudor-style home in St. Matthews that was built in 1936. The garden was started in 2004 and is a mix of Japanese, English, and Woodland styles.
Distinctive elements: Garden includes basic such as daylilies, iris, peonies, hostas, and roses, as well as less-common plants including crossvine, lady slippers, spigelia marilandica, toad lilies, Turk’s cap lilies, Canada lilies, tree peonies, cup plant, and Itoh peonies. The backbone of the garden is a collection of large rocks and 20 varieties of Japanese maple.
Applause! Applause! The homeowners would like thank local blacksmith Sherman Blankenship for helping them design and build the front porch railing, which incorporates several garden elements; local artist Samantha Griffin for designing and building a large, metal Canada lily sculpture for the back patio; and their hardscape person who has done an amazing job over the years bordering the garden with cobblestones, delivering and setting extra-large rocks, and on working on projects such as the brick driveway and patio.
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: St. Matthews Tudor-style home part of 2022 Kilgore Home & Garden Tour