Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communication Office
Capitol Grounds Get Spruced Up for Derby Celebration
Landscaping gets better each year
FRANKFORT, Ky. – The first Saturday in May brings the focus of race fans worldwide to Kentucky for the “Run for the Roses.” But garden enthusiasts, who visit Kentucky’s Capitol for the Governor’s Annual Derby Breakfast, may wish to direct their attention to the 15,500 begonias, petunias and various other annuals that grace the grounds of the Capitol, the Executive Mansion and the Floral Clock on Kentucky’s most famous day.
The flowerbeds that welcome visitors to the Capitol grounds will be draped in a blanket of ageratum, alternanthera, angelonia, canna, dusty miller, impatiens, marigolds, biden, purple fountain grass, salvia and wave petunias. The landscape design for Kentucky’s majestic Capitol grounds was created by the firm established by Frederick Law Olmstead, the founder of American landscape architecture. Olmstead’s firm is also responsible for the landscape design of many famous attractions, including Central Park in New York City and the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina.
The formal garden at the Executive Mansion, home to Governor and Mrs. Fletcher, will also be dressed in time for the Derby celebration, sporting a variety of flowers and plants grown in the greenhouses operated by the Department of Facilities Management’s Landscape Branch. The building’s architectural design and front courtyard was inspired by the Petit Trianon, or small castle, at the Chateau de Versailles in Paris, France.
Kentucky’s famous floral clock, which has recently undergone a renovation of its internal workings, will feature a colorful display of biden, ageratum and alternanthera. The planter that is the face of the clock is 34 feet wide and weighs 100 tons. Although there are other floral clocks in the world, Kentucky’s is unique because it keeps time above a pool of water. Coins tossed into the reflective pool are collected to fund scholarships sponsored by the Garden Club of Kentucky.
“The Capitol grounds are breathtaking during the Derby celebrations,” Governor Fletcher said. “The facilities staff gets better year after year. They make the people of the commonwealth even more proud of their Capitol building.”
The rest of the Capitol grounds also undergo a spring makeover in preparation for the Derby. Trees are pruned and sidewalks are edged. The Derby banners that hang from the streetlights bordering Capital Avenue are cleaned and put into place. Paint is touched up and green spaces are fertilized and treated for weeds to make sure they are healthy and lush on the first Saturday in May.
“We recognize that this may be the only time that some people see our beautiful state Capitol,” Finance and Administration Cabinet Secretary Robbie Rudolph said. “Our facilities staff and landscaping employees really go the extra mile to make sure the grounds look their very best for all of our Derby guests.”