Finance and Administration Cabinet
Capitol grounds decked out for Derby celebration
FRANKFORT, Ky.—On the first Saturday in May, Kentucky captures the attention of horseracing fans worldwide for the annual “Run for the Roses.” But the attention of visitors to the Governor’s Annual Derby Breakfast at the state Capitol may be drawn to the thousands of begonias, petunias and various other plants that grace the grounds of the Capitol, the Executive Mansion and the Floral Clock on Kentucky’s most famous day.
Flowerbeds that welcome visitors to the Capitol grounds will be draped in a blanket of ageratum, alternanthera, begonias, canna, impatiens, marigolds, salvia, ornamental peppers, vinca and wave petunias. In support of Gov. Beshear’s recent budget reduction mandates, the landscapers have incorporated many perennials into the design of the flowerbeds. Traditionally planted in annuals, these beds now include a mix of annuals and perennials to help reduce cost and maintain the color and variety appropriate for the landscape design created by the firm established by Frederick Law Olmstead, the founder of American landscape architecture. Olmstead’s firm also designed the landscape of many famous attractions, including Central Park in New York City and the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina.
The formal garden in front of the Executive Mansion, home to Gov. Beshear and First Lady Jane Beshear, has recently undergone a transformation that includes a design by Kentucky native and famed landscape designer Jon Carloftis. This design now reflects a more formal presentation with the planting of knockout roses, vitex, blue point juniper and numerous annual flowers and native plants, which are grown in greenhouses operated by the Finance and Administration Cabinet’s Landscape Branch. The building’s architectural design and front courtyard were inspired by the Petit Trianon, or small castle, at the Chateau de Versailles in Paris, France.
Kentucky’s famous floral clock boasts a jockey silk in a colorful display of ageratum, begonias and multiple colors of alternanthera for the 2008 Governor’s Derby Breakfast. The face of the giant clock is a 34-foot wide planter that weighs 100 tons. Although it is not the only floral clock in the world, Kentucky’s is unique because it keeps time while suspended above a pool of water. Coins tossed into the reflective pool are collected to fund scholarships sponsored by the Garden Club of Kentucky.
In preparation for the annual Derby breakfast, the remainder of the Capitol grounds also undergoes a spring makeover. Trees are pruned and sidewalks are edged. Colorful gold Derby banners that feature navy blue jockey silks hang from the streetlights bordering the Capitol and extending down Capital Avenue. Paint is touched up and green spaces are fertilized and treated for weeds to ensure they are lush and green for the first Saturday in May.
“The Commonwealth’s natural beauty is remarkable and its glory is proudly on display during the Derby celebration,” said Gov. Beshear. “Jane and I have the good fortune of enjoying the beautiful scenery of the Capitol grounds every day and we are so grateful to have the opportunity to share it with our many Derby breakfast guests.”