St Matthews Tudor style home section of Kilgore Home & Garden Tour 2022

Some people start growing or gardening for a specific type of plant, like roses or orchids. Others are drawn to the hobby as a calming, meditative practice. For Bob Bobrow, the company began attracting hummingbirds to his backyard in St. Matthews 18 years ago.

start small

“The garden started small in 2004 and gradually grew to fill our entire property,” Bobrow told The Courier Journal. “Each expansion was prompted by a search for a new plant or plant species to add to the garden, or a desire to attract wildlife – such as hummingbirds, goldfinches, butterflies and dragonflies.”

Robert Bobrow's home and garden will be part of the Kilgore Garden Tour.  May 18, 2022

Today, the immaculate garden includes everything from simple flora like daylilies, irises, peonies, hostas, and roses to less common plants like cruciferous vine, lady’s slipper, Spigelia marilandica, toad lilies, martagon lilies, Canada lilies, cup plants, and various peonies. The room also has a sizeable collection of large rocks, as well as 20 varieties of Japanese maple.

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A tree beginning

“(I) started… with the Japanese maple kick when I was about nine or ten years old,” Bobrow explained. “My uncle … had an orchard and … some ornamental trees, and I remember one day he took me and showed me this tree with red leaves. In 1969…they weren’t that common here.”

A Japanese maple tree in Robert Bobrow's front yard.  Borrow had moved the tree from another house to avoid damaging it with a sidewalk installation.  Bobrow's house will be part of the Kilgore Garden Tour.  May 18, 2022

Decades later Bobrow and his brothers inherited the land – and he remembered the tree. With a lot of effort and several helping hands, he managed to move the maple to his front yard, where it still stands today.

Other elements of the garden are also Japanese-inspired, including the small koi pond as well as the bird bath on the side of the driveway.

“The bird bath is wabi-sabi style,” Bobrow explained. “The idea (is that) that you don’t want anything perfect. They just want a natural look.”

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Robert Bobrow's home and garden will be part of the Kilgore Garden Tour.  May 18, 2022

Itoh Peonies – Hybrids from a tree peony bred with an herbaceous peony created by Japanese horticulturist Dr. Toichi Itoh was created – are scattered everywhere.

“I love peonies,” Bobrow exclaimed. “You really can’t get much prettier. … The (Itoh peonies) have a yellow tint; regular peonies don’t… and there are a lot more color variations.”

favorite flowers

Bobrow’s garden boasts an abundance of plants, but he says his favorites are the Canadian lilies, native to North America.

Robert Bobrow's home and garden will be part of the Kilgore Garden Tour.  May 18, 2022

“It’s a really pretty plant,” he said. “It grows (three to eight feet) tall, then (the) flowers spread and fall over, and they hang like the flowers of the columbine.”

He also loves 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 the finished space and the act of putting in the work to create it.

“Every night, if it’s nice, we sit out here,” he said, adding that in the morning he’ll be sitting at the other end. Several chairs and benches are scattered throughout so the view can be enjoyed from all angles in different ways depending on where the sun hits at any given time of the day.

A single purple iris stands out against the greenery in Robert Bobrow's garden.  Bobrow's house will be part of the Kilgore Garden Tour.  May 18, 2022

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“In the end, that’s the most enjoyable part,” he said. “But there’s something about doing everything yourself that makes it more enjoyable. … I think anyone who is a real gardener has a really strong control impulse (because) you create your own world.”

Bobrow’s Garden is one of seven on display at the 2022 Kilgore Home & Garden Tour.

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