GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2010 show30
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Show #30/2104. Plants That Will Last Generations.

Background
CAVE HILL IS CALLED A RURAL CEMETERY AND THEY WERE THE FORERUNNERS TO THE ARBORETUMS and forerunners of the park system. Landscape architects like Olmstead, for instance, got a lot of their original ideas from rural garden cemeteries with their meandering roadways, individual specimen trees and shrubs planted throughout. These ideas carried over into the park system.

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Caucasian Wingnut
This is a beautiful location for all the large trees and shrubs. ONE IS A PTEROCARYA 'CAUCASIAN WINGNUT' which is rare to find. It's a great tree, an offspring of the original tree from the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C. Cave Hill is on the plant testing list and because of this obtained the original tree in 1915. Originally it was planted by one of the ponds. It is a wide, spreading tree that puts out seeds in the fall.

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Beech Tree
ONE OF ERIC'S FAVORITE TREES IS THE BEECH TREE and Cave Hill has a number of wonderful selections. One is the 'European Beech.' It is Fagus sylvatica 'Rotundifolia' Roundleaf Columnar Beech. It was propagated by Theodore Kline the owner of Yew Dell Gardens in Crestwood, Kentucky (which we visit in another show) and a longtime friend of Lee's. Theodore propagated it and gave it to Cave Hill around 1976. They planted it on the lake. Beech trees like good drainage so it does great here and is a beautiful tree.

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Dawn Redwood
THEY HAVE ONE OF THE EARLIEST PLANTINGS OF METASEQUOIA GLYPTOSTROBOIDES 'DAWN REDWOOD' and it too came from the National Arboretum. One looks like an old, ancient tree but they are fast growers and in actuality was planted in the early 1950's. It was brought here from the expedition in China when they found them growing in the wild. Before that they were thought extinct. Since Cave Hill is a test site for the National Arboretum when it was found in 1945 or 46 it was propagated, then sent to Cave Hill. It is a great selection if one is looking for something unusual, something that grows fast.

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Bald Cypress
ANOTHER BEAUTIFUL DECIDUOUS CONIFER AT CAVE HILL IS TAXODIUM DISTICHUM 'BALD CYPRESS' and Taxodium ascendens 'Pond Cypress.' Eric notices the knees of the Bald cypress growing at the edge of the water. Bald cypress grows both in dry ground and wet ground and can be totally submerged in water. But when in a wet area the root system needs oxygen, so it puts knees up from the root system. These help absorb oxygen and exchange gas between the underground portion and the above ground portion and they help oxygenate the root system of the tree. It's a beautiful, kind of structural element and really looks nice.

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Yellow Wood Tree
ANOTHER GREAT TREE IS THE NATIONAL CHAMPION, CLADRASTIS IUTEA 'YELLOW WOOD.' It is a rare tree and this is the biggest Yellowwood in the U.S. It was planted around 1880, has a trunk circumference around of about 12 feet and a diameter of 7 to 8 feet and a branch spread of close to 90 feet. Again, it's planted in a shady area by itself without much competition. It has been given a wonderful opportunity to continue growing.

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Ginko Biloba
ERIC AND LEE NEXT LOOK AT A GINKO BILOBA 'MAIDENHAIR' and it is huge. It is the Kentucky state champion tree. It has a 17 foot circumference and about a 130 foot spread. It is massive. Ginkos are a prehistoric tree and one of the oldest trees in cultivation. This tree has some unusual distinctions. Generally Ginkos have male and female flowers on different trees. This tree was a male for 150 years and 10 years ago it put out a female branch, a Witches broom, in the top. Thus it's a monoecious Ginko, meaning it has both male and female elements in the same tree, which is quite unusual, it's not seen often.

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LINKS:

Cave Hill Cemetery

Galt House Hotel and Suites

Complete transcript of the show.

Show #30/2104. Plants That Will Last Generations.

In this episode Garden Smart visits Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky one of the birthplaces of modern landscape architecture. Cave Hill has a rich tradition both historically and horticulturally.
Eric first visits with Dr. Samuel Thomas a noted historian, as well as author, who's written a beautiful book about Cave Hill Cemetery. Dr. Thomas first came to Cave Hill because he was doing research on George Rogers Clark the founder of Louisville, Kentucky. The cemetery and the headstones proved valuable because they have dates on them which then were helpful in researching obituaries. The cemetery was not the first in the city but it is the most important. Cemeteries in the earlier times were laid out in a grid form. The Louisville city fathers decided that was an obsolete plan and decided to come to what was at that time Cave Hill Farm and use part of it as a burying ground. The city hired Edmund Francis Lee to lay this out in 1857. Mr. Lee decided not to do it the old way. Instead he decided to highlight this wonderful, scenic property, taking advantage of the water, trees and the natural setting. All added credence and were conducive to the idea that one would lay here for eternity. This was a radical departure from a typical cemetery of the day. Everything was carefully thought through and designed down to the terracing and the way the monuments were placed in the landscape. This concept provided more of a garden feel which brings a sense of peacefulness and beauty to Cave Hill which is unique. Many of the monuments are more works of art than just headstones. We look at one example. It was designed by Robert Launitz from New York City, who was the father of monumental art in America. It came in parts from Italy and is made of Carrera marble that was brought over here then arranged in this cemetery. Knowing some of the history of Cave Hill helps us understand it better and makes it an even more special place.
Cave Hill Cemetery sits on 300 impeccably manicured acres. Lee Squires is the Secretary Treasurer and the Superintendent of the cemetery. He's a man that wears a lot of hats and we talk with him to learn more about him and his background. Lee came to Cave Hill in 1974. He has a degree in Horticulture and Landscape Design from the University of Kentucky. He is only the 5th Superintendent here since 1848. The 1st three Superintendents were from Scotland and were Scottish gardeners. In that era landscaping was in its infancy in the U.S. Thus they hired landscape professionals from Scotland to come to this country.
Today Lee and his staff have 300 acres of grass to cut so the Weedeater or string trimmer is most helpful. But, Eric notices the beautiful design, there is obviously a gardeners touch at work here. In many ways old cemeteries were the birthplace of modern landscape architecture and upon closer inspection one can see how many of the ideas today were borrowed from the past, specifically from old cemeteries like Cave Hill. Central Park is another example.
CAVE HILL IS CALLED A RURAL CEMETERY AND THEY WERE THE FORERUNNERS TO THE ARBORETUMS and forerunners of the park system. Landscape architects like Olmstead, for instance, got a lot of their original ideas from rural garden cemeteries with their meandering roadways, individual specimen trees and shrubs planted throughout. These ideas carried over into the park system. Thus in actuality the parks are cemeteries without monuments. This cemetery is well designed and laid out in such a way as to provide an intimate feeling. But at the same time it has a tremendous sense of space. A lot of that has to do with the way the trees are positioned. There was a tremendous amount of forethought that went into the way every individual plant was located, certainly with the full grown specimen in mind. We're now able to see what these trees would do if left undisturbed for hundreds of years and in some cases many are older than that. This cemetery provides a tremendous opportunity to see different plants, basically in a natural setting where they've been undisturbed for a long period of time. To some degree that is because they have planted the trees on the dividing lines between the lots, plus they have some areas called plant reserves where they can have only plants, no burials. Thus the trees can reach mature size, many are well over one hundred years old and have been undisturbed for that number of years.
There are many wonderful and amazing natural features here, like springs and lakes, but Eric and Lee start at the mouth of the cave which the cemetery was named after. This cave runs back 276 feet and is where Cave Hill got its name. Cave Hill is located on coarse topography. They have over 62 sink holes, which is where the roof of the cave dropped to the floor. This occurred about 750,000 years ago. Since that time about 15 feet of soil has accumulated on top of that drop. Since it won't sink anymore they've landscaped around the basins, as they're called. This has added to the valleys, the depressions and the hills and vales of the cemetery. As well there are beautiful streams and springs and lakes that make up a wonderful series of water features that break up the rolling hills and make for a pastoral element. In front of the cave is a 2 acre lake. It has 5 springs that feed the lake system running from Grensted Draft through the cemetery. The springs are active year round, they have 53 degree water temperature so the birds and fish and waterfowl have fresh water year round. As well, there are 5 lakes on the property.
One of the larger lakes was originally a limestone quarry which is fitting considering all the stone at the cemetery. Prior to 1900 they quarried limestone. The local prison would sentence prisoners to the Cave Hill quarry. The prisoners would come out with sledgehammers and actually break stone at the quarry. One one occasion the prisoners were drilling in the base of the quarry with a 20 foot drill when they hit an underground spring. The water came up and filled the quarry and today there is 20 to 25 feet of water in there.
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Caucasian Wingnut This is a beautiful location for all the large trees and shrubs. ONE IS A PTEROCARYA 'CAUCASIAN WINGNUT' which is rare to find. It's a great tree, an offspring of the original tree from the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C. Cave Hill is on the plant testing list and because of this obtained the original tree in 1915. Originally it was planted by one of the ponds. It is a wide, spreading tree that puts out seeds in the fall. This particular tree grew from seed. They propagated them, dug them up and moved them around to different parts of the cemetery. Lee thinks the botanical name Pterocarya fraxinifolia is a cool botanical name.
Lee takes us on a walking tour. Cave Hill has a number of wonderful Evergreen and Conifer selections. One of the repeating themes throughout is the Taxus cuspidate 'Japanese Yew.' These allowed to grow have a beautiful natural form. One was planted around 1890 when their office was built. Over the years it's grown up and they trimmed it every year until 10 years ago. At that point they limbed it up, cut off all the bottom limbs and foliage and exposed the unusual branching habit. This technique provides a rare opportunity to see the bark on a Yew which is usually hidden. By contrast nearby they have a Japanese Yew which has a more formal treatment, giving it the appearance of a tightly sheared hedge, which is a totally different look. They try to keep it a little tighter. The gardeners call it the flying saucer because it resembles a flying saucer. This they trim every year.
Top

Beach Tree ONE OF ERIC'S FAVORITE TREES IS THE BEECH TREE and Cave Hill has a number of wonderful selections. One is the 'European Beech.' It is Fagus sylvatica 'Rotundifolia' Roundleaf Columnar Beech. It was propagated by Theodore Kline the owner of Yew Dell Gardens in Crestwood, Kentucky (which we visit in another show) and a longtime friend of Lee's. Theodore propagated it and gave it to Cave Hill around 1976. They planted it on the lake. Beech trees like good drainage so it does great here and is a beautiful tree.
Top

Dawn Redwood THEY HAVE ONE OF THE EARLIEST PLANTINGS OF METASEQUOIA GLYPTOSTROBOIDES 'DAWN REDWOOD' and it too came from the National Arboretum. One looks like an old, ancient tree but they are fast growers and in actuality was planted in the early 1950's. It was brought here from the expedition in China when they found them growing in the wild. Before that they were thought extinct. Since Cave Hill is a test site for the National Arboretum when it was found in 1945 or 46 it was propagated, then sent to Cave Hill. It is a great selection if one is looking for something unusual, something that grows fast.
Top

Bald Cypress ANOTHER BEAUTIFUL DECIDUOUS CONIFER AT CAVE HILL IS TAXODIUM DISTICHUM 'BALD CYPRESS' and Taxodium ascendens 'Pond Cypress.' Eric notices the knees of the Bald cypress growing at the edge of the water. Bald cypress grows both in dry ground and wet ground and can be totally submerged in water. But when in a wet area the root system needs oxygen, so it puts knees up from the root system. These help absorb oxygen and exchange gas between the underground portion and the above ground portion and they help oxygenate the root system of the tree. It's a beautiful, kind of structural element and really looks nice.
Earlier we saw a Columnar Beech tree, we now view the botanical opposite, which is a Fagus sylvatica 'Weeping Beech' tree. It is a fantastic, large specimen. The Scottish gardeners in 1890 imported this tree from Belgium and was the 1st Weeping Beech tree in this part of the country. It's planted by itself, with no competition, is thriving and is a very unique specimen. Since it has been given a lot of space it's able to express its personality and it is truly a tree with a lot of personality.
Top

Yellow Wood Tree ANOTHER GREAT TREE IS THE NATIONAL CHAMPION, CLADRASTIS IUTEA 'YELLOW WOOD.' It is a rare tree and this is the biggest Yellowwood in the U.S. It was planted around 1880, has a trunk circumference around of about 12 feet and a diameter of 7 to 8 feet and a branch spread of close to 90 feet. Again, it's planted in a shady area by itself without much competition. It has been given a wonderful opportunity to continue growing.
Eric thinks that given the fact Cave Hill is right in the middle of downtown Louisville it is hard to believe there is so much serenity and beauty. It's so quiet, yet right in the middle of the city. In 1848 Cave Hill was called a rural garden cemetery. It was located in the country at that time because of communicable diseases. Since that time the city has bypassed the cemetery so now it is in the heart of downtown Louisville. It's an oasis in the city.
Top

Ginko Biloba ERIC AND LEE NEXT LOOK AT A GINKO BILOBA 'MAIDENHAIR' and it is huge. It is the Kentucky state champion tree. It has a 17 foot circumference and about a 130 foot spread. It is massive. Ginkos are a prehistoric tree and one of the oldest trees in cultivation. This tree has some unusual distinctions. Generally Ginkos have male and female flowers on different trees. This tree was a male for 150 years and 10 years ago it put out a female branch, a Witches broom, in the top. Thus it's a monoecious Ginko, meaning it has both male and female elements in the same tree, which is quite unusual, it's not seen often.
The headstones and sculptures are beautiful and everywhere at Cave Hill. Most of the monuments are works of art. We view the Thompson monument which is a monument designed to look like a tree trunk. The individual headstones are saw logs, which appear to have come from the original monument. Thompson was in the tree business, thus the motif. Another is a woman, that was killed in an accident 20 years ago, in a nightgown. This monument is made of bronze. Another is a smiling Jesus with children running to Him. This is called Children Come Unto Me. There are many statues made of marble but marble has deteriorated over the years because of acid rain. Thus some of the earlier pieces were made of marble, some of the later are made of bronze. They've perfected bronze techniques for sculptures and one can now get more detail with bronze rather than from marble. All are beautiful and mesh into the garden beautifully.
We next visit the Rustic Shelter House. It was built in 1882 and is a copy of Marie Antoinette's garden cottage at the Palace of Versailles in Paris. It's made out of oak bark and the original bark is still on the building. The guards today use it for shelter as they walk through the grounds. Thus they have 120 year old bark that is still in good condition. One reason is the building has a limestone foundation and Poplar floor joist. Termites will not climb limestone and they do not eat Poplar. This is just another example of the amount of forethought that has gone into every aspect of this garden.
Eric and Lee are standing next to a beautiful pink marble gazebo. And, it is stunning. Lee thinks it is probably the only million dollar gazebo he'll ever see. The scale and intricacy of this piece is another example of the detail here. This was built in 1926 and 1927 for the Satterwhire family. They purchased this lot in 1925, it is one half acre and very well maintained. It has a fantastic wall of white flowering Azaleas that are stunning. They were planted in 1927, after the memorial was built. They're day-azadelvw 'Delaware Valley White' Azaleas. They've never been trimmed and they're 10 feet tall.
They next look at another Beech tree. This one is a 200 year old specimen. It is Fagus grandifolia 'American ' Beech and is truly a wonderful specimen, one of the largest Eric has ever seen. It reminds him of a wonderful story he heard years ago about a beautiful European cathedral that, as the workers were finishing it up, they planted a couple allaes of Oak trees along the side of the cathedral knowing that in 100 to 150 years the beams of that cathedral were going to need to be replaced. It was important to the workers that they have the right kind of wood and that it was the correct size. That is the kind of vision and future-mindedness that one sees at Cave Hill Cemetery. From generation to generation of caretaker they all have planned and carefully thought out what plants to put in place, how to space them and how to build this paradise. The philosophy here is Cave Hill is forever, for the future. Someone once said it's a wise man who plants a tree under whose shade he will never sit. That's the philosophy they follow at Cave Hill Cemetery.
And, that thinking is in sharp contrast to a lot of what we see in modern landscaping and landscape design. People are using what some might consider disposable trees. An example would be, a Pyrus calleryana 'Bradford' Pear that will crack up within 15 years. As well, the trend is to take a bunch of plants and cram them in together where one would only need 1 or 2 plants. Thus, instead of picking out a couple of plants of distinction or a couple of nice plants and letting them achieve the kind of size that those plants can achieve, where one really gets to experience the plant, today we seem to be looking for something that is much more short term. Eric encourages gardeners to look at noble plants and trees of distinction, plants that will last for generations. Avoid instant gratification in landscaping and plant for the future. Don't plant too many plants in one area.
Eric thanks Lee for the tour of Cave Hill Cemetery. This has been a very different experience but one with many subtle gardening lessons. We've thoroughly enjoyed Lee and Cave Hill Cemetery. Thanks for the opportunity to see a truly unique garden.
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LINKS:

Cave Hill Cemetery

Galt House Hotel and Suites


   
 
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