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A Green Thumb

Gardening expert Bush to lecture
at Yew Dell Gardens

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

CRESTWOOD, Ky. (May 2005) – “People are just beginning to find it,” said gardening expert Gene Bush of rock gardening. Bush runs his own nursery, Munchkin Nursery and Gardens LLC, in Depauw, Ind., and has spent the last 14 years cultivating five acres outside of the town limits.

Gene Bush

Photo provided

Gene Bush will speak in
May on rock gardening.

Bush finds rock gardening to be hands-on, good exercise and enjoyable on a physical, spiritual and intellectual level. “You can do a tremendous amount of gardening in a small space,” he said.
Bush will give a lecture and slide presentation focusing on rock gardening in Kentucky at 7 p.m. on May 11 at the Commonwealth Bank and Trust, 286 N. Hubbards Lane. This presentation is sponsored by Yew Dell Gardens of Crestwood. Admission is $10 for members, $15 for non-members.
An accomplished artist, photographer and writer, Bush has penned several gardening-related articles. His “Garden Clippins’” newsletter is highly popular and can be accessed through his website. From 1992 to Feb. 1997, Bush produced a highly successful six-page-a-month hard copy of his newsletter.
Originally from Grayson County, Ky., Bush averages two presentations a month, in addition to managing his nursery. He moved to southern Indiana in 1967 and first tried his hand at vegetable gardening. Munchkin Nursery came about quite by accident.
Bush had been cutting grass on a hillside with a tractor when he lost control. Had it not been for a cedar stump, he would have gone over a small cliff. He decided then to plant the hillside in shrubs and trees so he would never have to mow it again.
While going through the process of choosing the right plants, he became addicted to the colorful pictures of blooming shrubs and perennials. Thus, the idea for Munchkin Nursery was born. Bush is well known for his work with shade perennials and wildflowers, and is a longtime member of the North American Rock Garden Society.
The slides Bush will show were taken at his gardens and will showcase rock gardening from construction to enjoyment. Rock gardens can be adorned with a variety of miniature to dwarf plants that do not exceed one and a half feet in height. He suggests that miniature evergreens, miniature native plants and plants native to Europe and Asia are what grow best in this area.
Bush was asked by the staff at Yew Dell to view a sunken rock garden, one of the first gardening projects completed on the property of the late Theodore Klein. Klein, an Oldham County nurseryman and plant expert, used Louisville limestone in his garden. “It is a good representation of Theodore’s early work in the county,” said Leslie Buddeke, Yew Dell Gardens’ director of development and marketing .
The rock garden has since become overgrown from not having been maintained as it should have been. Volunteers will begin from scratch, adding new soil and plants to the area to restore it to its original state. Bush said he is interested in the project, but does not know how involved he will become, since he lives an hour away from Yew Dell gardens.
Buddeke said members of the Green Thumbs Garden Club and the Oldham County Master Gardeners Association would volunteer their time and services to complete this project. Tillie Monem is a member of both groups and said, “Both clubs have jointly adopted the gardens.” Rehabilitation work that must be accomplished in the sunken rock garden includes the removal of clay-like soil from among the rocks and the replacement of plant material. Volunteers are working every Wednesday until the job is complete, she said.
Monem said she found this rock garden unique because Kentucky doesn’t have many of them. Klein constructed the garden “in an effort to show people what can be done with a rock garden,” said Monem. Kentucky doesn’t have a recognized national rock garden for public viewing, she said.
Gardens of this type in the Kentuckiana area still “need to be discovered,” said Bush. Rock gardens are out there, but more public awareness is needed to get the word out.
Everything comes into fashion, wanes, and comes into fashion again, said Bush. The same rule holds true with gardening, he said. Bush views gardening as a fun way to meet others who “speak a common language.”

• For more information contact Buddeke at (502) 241-4788 or leslieb@yewdellgardens.org, or visit Bush’s website at: www.munchkinnursery.com.

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